Is case triaging a useful tool for emergency surgeries? A review of 106 trauma surgery cases at a level 1 trauma center in South Africa

Journal Article


Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Abstract Background The optimal timing for emergency surgical interventions and implementation of protocols for trauma surgery is insufficient in the literature. The Groote Schuur emergency surgery triage (GSEST) system, based on Cape Triaging Score (CTS), is followed at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) for triaging emergency surgical cases including trauma cases. The study aimed to look at the effect of delay in surgery after scheduling based on the GSEST system has an impact on outcome in terms of postoperative complications and death. Methods Prospective audit of patients presenting to GSH trauma center following penetrating or blunt chest, abdominal, neck and peripheral vascular trauma who underwent surgery over a 4-month period was performed. Post-operative complications were graded according to Clavien-Dindo classification of surgical complications. Results One-hundred six patients underwent surgery during the study period. One-hundred two (96.2%) cases were related to penetrating trauma. Stab wounds comprised 71 (67%) and gunshot wounds (GSW) 31 (29.2%) cases. Of the 106 cases, 6, 47, 40, and 13 patients were booked as red, orange, yellow, and green, respectively. The median delay for green, yellow, and orange cases was within the expected time. The red patients took unexpectedly longer (median delay 48 min, IQR 35–60 min). Thirty-one (29.3%) patients developed postoperative complications. Among the booked red, orange, yellow, and green cases, postoperative complications developed in 3, 18, 9, and 1 cases, respectively. Only two (1.9%) postoperative deaths were documented during the study period. There was no statistically significant association between operative triage and post-operative complications (p = 0.074). Conclusion Surgical case categorization has been shown to be useful in prioritizing emergency trauma surgical cases in a resource constraint high-volume trauma center.