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Study finds air traffic control tracking method reduces errors in trauma management
Date:6/11/2009

paper and clipboard in 18 four-hour casualty scenarios with six groups of senior medical students, each with five to 30 mock casualties as part of training session at the Emergency Medical Support Level II facility at USUHS. The experimental control groups were alternated to maximize exposure and minimize training effects. Results were compiled into performance indices for each scenario, ranging from 0 to 100 percent to represent the number of information items recorded correctly, divided by the number of information items sampled in the scenario.

When compared with the control group, the air traffic control method had fewer errors than the traditional method in critical patient data (99 percent correct versus 87 percent correct, p=0.017). Additionally, the air traffic control method better tracked mechanism of injury (100 percent versus 88 percent, p=0.004), working diagnosis (100 percent versus 93 percent, p=0.045) and disposition of patients through hospital (100 percent versus 93 percent, p=0.009).

The air traffic control method did not significantly vary from the traditional method in recording name, social security number or patient location, or in determining total number of casualties (both were 92 percent). However, the air traffic control method was able to track where patients were at given times, even after each scenario was finished.

By keeping data in "air traffic control" bays, information was available in one location as opposed to on a roving clipboard. This system provided hospital administrators with knowledge of current hospital capacity and throughput efficiency so that resources could be redirected in real time and a dynamic re-triage process could be maintained.

Post-scenario surveys were provided to key student leadership positions after each cycle. Responders (n=75) preferred the data bays to standard clipboard tracking by a ratio of nearly 3:1 (p = 0.003).


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