Pediatric Injury Transfer Patterns During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Interrupted time Series Analysis.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2022.08.029; PMCID: PMC9424522


INTRODUCTION: With the expected surge of adult patients with COVID-19, the Children's Hospital Association recommended a tiered approach to divert children to pediatric centers. Our objective was understanding changes in interfacility transfer to Pediatric Trauma Centers (PTCs) during the first 6 mo of the pandemic.

METHODS: Children aged < 18 y injured between January 1, 2016 and September 30, 2020, who met National Trauma Databank inclusion criteria from 9 PTCs were included. An interrupted time-series analysis was used to estimate an expected number of transferred patients compared to observed volume. The "COVID" cohort was compared to a historical cohort (historical average [HA]), using an average across 2016-2019. Site-based differences in transfer volume, demographics, injury characteristics, and hospital-based outcomes were compared between cohorts.

RESULTS: Twenty seven thousand thirty one/47,382 injured patients (57.05%) were transferred to a participating PTC during the study period. Of the COVID cohort, 65.4% (4620/7067) were transferred, compared to 55.7% (3281/5888) of the HA (P < 0.001). There was a decrease in 15-y-old to 17-y-old patients (10.43% COVID versus 12.64% HA, P = 0.003). More patients in the COVID cohort had injury severity scores ≤ 15 (93.25% COVID versus 87.63% HA, P < 0.001). More patients were discharged home after transfer (31.80% COVID versus 21.83% HA, P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Transferred trauma patients to Level I PTC increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proportion of transferred patients discharged from emergency departments increased. Pediatric trauma transfers may be a surrogate for referring emergency department capacity and resources and a measure of pediatric trauma triage capability.

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The Journal of surgical research



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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Child; Humans; COVID-19; Pandemics; Interrupted Time Series Analysis; Patient Transfer; Trauma Centers; Injury Severity Score; Retrospective Studies; Wounds and Injuries


Adolescent trauma; COVID-19; Interfacility transfers; Interrupted time series analysis; Pediatric trauma

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