Affiche “Literature review of telemedicine for trauma patients in rural areas”

June 7, 2016


Affiche “Literature review of telemedicine for trauma patients in rural areas” – congrès de l’ACMU (Pichard-Jolicoeur A, Fleet R et al.).


Introduction: Trauma is the leading cause of death among people under 40. With more than 7 million Canadians living over one hour’s travel from a level 1 or 2 trauma center, access to quality trauma care in Canada is a major concern. We recently reported that more than 40% of rural EDs across Canada were more than 300 km from levels 1 and 2 trauma centers. Direct transportation to trauma centers is therefore unusual and most trauma cases are initially managed in rural EDs. Assistance from trauma centers via telemedicine could thus be valuable in optimizing initial stabilization and inter-facility transfers.


Objective: Is telemedicine a potentially effective intervention for improving rural trauma care?  


Methods: We conducted a literature review to examine the potential impact (number of transfers, transfer times, length of hospital stays and mortality) of telemedicine on rural trauma care. Two reviewers independently searched PubMed, Embase and Cochrane databases with key words / concept combinations: telemedicine, trauma and rural. Articles included in the final review had to address the question with specific methodologies. After duplicate removal, 312 articles were found relevant. After independent review of titles and abstracts, only 25 articles pertained to the specific question. Only three studies met inclusion criteria. 


Results: These studies reported 187 successful teleconsultations in the context of rural trauma care, 29 of which involved significant interventions (8 interventions potentially lifesaving). Some unnecessary inter-facility transfers were avoided. However, transfer times to trauma centers and length of hospital stays appeared slightly longer with telemedicine. 


Conclusions: The literature on the efficacy of telemedicine in trauma care is scarce, with only three studies addressing the question. Conclusions generally favor telemedicine, but additional research must be conducted to determine its impact and better understand the barriers/facilitators to the implementation of telemedicine for rural trauma care.

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