Prehospital hypotension as a valid indicator of trauma team activation.
Criteria for trauma team activation are continually being evaluated to ensure proper utilization of resources. We examined the impact of prehospital (PH) hypotension (systolic blood pressure < or = 90) on outcome (operative intervention and mortality) and its usefulness as an indicator for trauma team activation. A database was created by using the trauma registry for all nonburned, injured patients from July of 1993 through October of 1998 at our Level I trauma center. Of 6,976 patients (83% blunt injury) in the database, 4,437 had a PH blood pressure recorded. Documented PH hypotension was present in 791 patients. Hypotension persisted in the emergency department (ED) in 299 patients, but 193 of them showed minimal or no signs of life on arrival. Four hundred ninety-two patients had PH hypotension but normal ED systolic blood pressure, and 130 patients developed ED hypotension after normal PH systolic blood pressure. Nearly half of the patients with hypotension were taken from the ED directly to the operating room primarily for hemorrhage control procedures. The early and late mortality rates of patients with PH and ED hypotension were 12% and 32%, respectively. Other PH interventions had minimal effect on mortality in the hypotensive patient. Prehospital hypotension remains a valid indicator for trauma team activation. Even though most of the non-DOA patients (492 of 598) were stable on arrival to the ED, nearly 50% required operative intervention, and an additional 25% required intensive care unit admission. The trauma team should be activated and involved with these patients early.