Being human, I suffer from confirmation bias: I’ve become aware that I’m always on the look out for studies that show benefit from physician-provided pre-hospital care and therefore it’s possible I miss the ones that show no benefit. Of course, no ‘level 1’ evidence is out there yet. This study isn’t hugely impressive, but worth adding to the list. After adjusting for injury severity, trauma patients treated on scene by Dutch physicians had no difference in mortality compared with those that received standard care. In the subgroup analysis for patients with severe traumatic brain injury, the mortality rate with physician involvement was lower than that without, but was not statistically significant. On scene times averaged 2.7 minutes longer in the physician group although factors that might have contributed to this, such as entrapment or on scene interventions, were not recorded.
A major limitation in study design is that patients who died while under care at the scene or during transport were excluded from the analysis. The on scene time in these patients could have been prolonged by medical interventions in the field possibly contributing to the adverse outcome.
Take home message? More evidence needed.
The Association of Mobile Medical Team Involvement on On-Scene Times and Mortality in Trauma Patients
J Trauma. 2010 Sep;69(3):589-94