Intervention rates are low after direct discharge from the Edinburgh trauma triage clinic: Outcomes of 6,688 patients



      The Edinburgh Trauma Triage clinic (TTC) is an established form of Virtual Fracture clinic (VFC) that permits the direct discharge of simple, isolated fractures from the Emergency Department (ED). Small, short-term cohort studies of similar systems have been published, but to detect low rates of complications requires a large study sample and longer-term follow-up. This study details the outcomes of all patients with injuries suitable for a direct discharge protocol over a four-year period, reviewed at a minimum of three years after attendance.


      All TTC records between February 2014 and December 2017 were collated from a prospective database. Fractures of the radial head, little finger metacarpal, fifth metatarsal, toe phalanges and mallet finger injuries were included. TTC outcome, including any deviations from a well-established direct discharge protocol, were noted. All records were re-assessed at a minimum of 36 months after TTC triage (mean 54 months) to ascertain which injuries attended the trauma clinic after initial discharge. Reasons for attendance, the source of referral and any subsequent surgical procedures were identified.


      There were 6688 patients with fractures of the radial head (1861), little finger metacarpal (1621), fifth metatarsal (1916), toe phalanges (920) and mallet finger injuries (370). 298 (6%) patients were re-referred after direct discharge and attended trauma clinic at a mean time after injury of 11.9 weeks, of whom 11 (0.2%) underwent a surgical intervention. Serious adverse events, defined as those in which a patient may not have come to harm if early clinical review had been undertaken, occurred in 1 patient (0.01%).


      Intervention after direct discharge of simple pre-defined injuries of the elbow, hand and foot is low. Within a TTC system, patients with these injuries can be safely discharged without routine follow-up.
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