Background Given that there are still considerable number of facilities which lack surgical specialists round the clock across the world, the ability to estimate the requirement for emergency surgery in victims of motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) can ensure appropriate resource allocation. In this study, a surgical intervention in victims of MVC (SIM) score was developed and validated, using independent patient cohorts. Methods We retrospectively identified MVC victims in a nationwide trauma registry (2004–2016). Adults ≥ 15 years who presented with palpable pulse were included. Patients with missing data on the type/date of surgery were excluded. Patient were allocated to development or validation cohorts based on the date of injury. After missing values were imputed, predictors of the need for emergency thoracotomy and/or laparotomy were identified with multivariate logistic regression, and scores were then assigned using odds ratios. The SIM score was validated with area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) and calibration plots of SIM score-derived probability and observed rates of emergency surgery. Results We assigned 13,328 and 12,348 patients to the development and validation cohorts, respectively. Age, motor vehicle collision and vital signs on hospital arrival were identified as independent predictors for emergency thoracotomy and/or laparotomy, and SIM score was developed as 0–9 scales. The score has a good discriminatory power (AUROC = 0.79; 95% confidence interval = 0.77–0.81), and both estimated and observed rates of emergency surgery increased stepwise from 1% at a score ≤ 1 to almost 40% at a score ≥ 8 with linear calibration plots. Conclusions The SIM score was developed and validated to accurately estimate the need for emergent thoracotomy and/or laparotomy in MVC victims.
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