A thoracostomy tube guideline improves management efficiency in trauma patients

Gina Adrales, Toan Huynh, Beth Broering, Ronald F. Sing, William Miles, Michael H. Thomason, David G. Jacobs, Gerald Fulda, Jeffrey S. Hammond, Glen Tinkoff, William F. Pfeiffer, Carl J. Hauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Thoracostomy tube (TT) placement constitutes primary treatment for traumatic hemopneumothorax. Practice patterns vary widely, and criteria for management and removal remain poorly defined. In this cohort study, we examined the impact of implementation of a practice guideline (PG) on improving management efficiency of thoracostomy tube. Methods: We developed a PG aimed at standardizing the management of TTs in critically ill patients admitted to a Level I trauma center. During the 9-month period before (Pre-PG) and 3 months after (Post-PG) implementation, practice parameters including prophylactic antibiotics, duration of TT therapy, preremoval chest radiographs with associated charges, and complications were evaluated. Differences between groups were assessed by Mann-Whitney rank sum and χ2 with Yates correction. Results: There were 61 patients, 14 in the Pre-PG group and 47 in the Post-PG group. The groups were matched in age and Injury Severity Scores. The Post-PG cohort averaged 3 fewer days of TT therapy. After implementation of the PG, 21 patients did not have preremoval chest radiography, representing a $3000 reduction in radiology fees. Complication rates (retained pneumothorax, hemothorax, and empyema) were not different between the two groups. Conclusion: Implementation of a thoracostomy tube practice guideline was associated with improved management efficiency in trauma patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Chest tube
  • Management
  • Outcome
  • Practice guideline
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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