Factors Associated With Early Discharge in Pediatric Trauma Patients Transported by Rotor: A Retrospective Analysis

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Air Medical Journal



Helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) play a crucial role in providing timely transport for pediatric trauma patients. This service carries the highest risk of any mode of medical transport and a high financial burden, and patient outcomes are seldom investigated. This study evaluated the characteristics of pediatric trauma patients discharged within 24 hours after transport by HEMS.


This was a single-center, retrospective analysis on pediatric trauma patients transported by HEMS from 2019 to 2022. Analyses were performed to identify factors associated with discharge within 24 hours. Factors analyzed included vital signs, Shock Index, Pediatric Age-Adjusted scores, management details, and clinical outcomes.


A total of 466 pediatric trauma patients were transported by HEMS, including 171 patients (36.7%) who were discharged within 24 hours. There were no differences in the rates of blunt and penetrating injury (P = .583). Patients discharged within 24 hours were more likely to have a higher Glasgow Coma Scale score (14 vs. 11, P < .001) and a lower Injury Severity Score (4.9 vs. 14.7, P < .001), required less prehospital fluid resuscitation (5.5 vs. 11.7 mL/kg, P = .039), and had higher levels of serum calcium (9.3 vs. 8.9 mg/dL, P < .001). They were also less likely to meet criteria for level 1 trauma activation (13.0% vs. 40%, P < .001) or to require prehospital respiratory support of any kind (4.1% vs. 31.1%, P < .001). After arrival at the hospital, they were less likely to require blood transfusions (2.9% vs. 29.8%, P < .001) or tranexamic acid (2.9% vs. 11.5%, P = .001).


Trauma patients with a high Glasgow Coma Scale score and a low Injury Severity Score who do not require critical care or meet the criteria for high-level trauma activation may be suitable for transportation with lower acuity. Further studies aimed at improving triage and implementing improved criteria for the use of HEMS are paramount.



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air ambulances, emergency medical services, patient discharge, retrospective studies, trauma centers, triage, wounds and injuries