Guidelines for the Field Triage of Injured Patients
Injuries affect all Americans.
They are the leading cause of death for children and adults from age 1 to 44 in the United States.
At the scene of an injury, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals must identify the severity and type of injury, and determine which hospital or other facility would be the most appropriate to meet the needs of the patient. This is done through a process called “field triage.”
Decide to Save Lives and Money—Get the Facts
Getting the right patient to the right place at the right time
The profound importance of daily on-scene triage decisions made by EMS professionals is reinforced by CDC-supported research that shows that the overall risk of death was 25 percent lower when care was provided at a Level I trauma center than when it was provided at a non-trauma center.
Not all injured patients can or should be transported to a Level I trauma center. Other hospitals can effectively meet the needs of patients with less severe injuries, and may be closer to the scene. Transporting all injured patients to Level I centers—regardless of injury severity—limits the availability of Level I trauma center for those patients who really need the level of care provided at those facilities. Proper field triage ensures that patients are transported to the most appropriate healthcare facility that best matches their level of need.
In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidance on the field triage process in “Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients, Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage” in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
The updated Guidelines, published in the newly released MMWR reflect the results of the Panel’s deliberations and include changes made upon the best available evidence, and incorporate the experiential base that CDC has developed through its close work with states, national organizations, communities, and individual professionals.
The 2011 Guidelines for the Field Triage of the Injured Patient initiative is developed to give EMS leaders and professionals the tools they need to implement and adopt the 2011 Guidelines.
- Continuing Education Activity credit is available through CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) Continuing Education Program. To access the report and take the course, visit: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/cme/serial_conted.html.
MMWR Recommendations and Reports Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients: Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage
2011 Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients Course for EMS Professionals (Developed with the University of Michigan)
Directions to take the course:
- Go to www.traumaedu-lms.com
- Click on "New User? Sign up here" to create an account to preview the course
- Once you've created an account, go back to the www.traumaedu-lms.com web page
- Enable popup blocker on internet browser setting to enable the course to launch
- Login with your user information
- Click on Catalog
- Enroll in 2011 Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients
- Click on computer icon to launch the course
(As of December 15, 2011)
Air Medical Physician Association
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
American Association for Respiratory Care
American Association for the Surgery of Trauma
American Burn Association
American College of Emergency Physicians
American College of Osteopathic Surgeons
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
American Pediatric Surgical Association
American Public Health Association
American Trauma Society
Association of Air Medical Services
Association of Critical Care Transport
Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Brain Trauma Foundation
Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems
Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma
Emergency Nurses Association
International Academies of Emergency Dispatch
International Association of Emergency Medical Services Chiefs
International Association of Fire Chiefs
International Association of Flight and Critical Care Paramedics
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
National Association of EMS Educators
National Association of EMS Physicians
National Association of State EMS Officials
National EMS Information System
National EMS Management Association
National Volunteer Fire Council
Safe States Alliance
Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research
Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants
Trauma Center Association of America
Western Trauma Association
Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (comprising representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concurs with these Guidelines.
- MMWR Recommendations and Reports [PDF 1MB] 2006 Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients: Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage, January 29, 2009
- EMS.gov Hosted by NHTSA EMS and developed to meet the varied needs of the EMS community with updates on Federal EMS initiatives and programs.
Field Triage Advances Motor Vehicle Crash Response
For more information about CDC’s efforts to develop evidence-based protocols for the emergency medical community to effectively use automotive telemetry data, visit http://www.cdc.gov/injuryresponse/aacn.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
4770 Buford Hwy, NE
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
TTY: (888) 232-6348
New Hours of Operation:
- Contact CDC-INFO