Documentation of acute compartment syndrome at an academic health-care center

Brett M. Cascio, John H. Wilckens, Michael C. Ain, Charles Toulson, Frank J. Frassica

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Documentation of the clinical course of a compartment syndrome is critical to effective treatment; however, such documentation often is found to be inadequate. Methods: Notes and consent forms for thirty consecutive patients with adequate follow-up who had undergone fasciotomy for the treatment of compartment syndrome were reviewed for legibility, notation of the time and date, and documentation of the presence of core physical examination and history findings, including pain, paresthesias, tenseness, pain on passive stretch, sensory deficit, motor deficit, pulses, compartment pressures, and diastolic blood pressure. Results: Documentation was inadequate for twenty-one patients (70%): the notes and consent forms were not timed or not dated (or both) for nine patients (30%), and the notes were at least partially illegible for sixteen patients (53%). The documentation was incomplete with regard to the presence of paresthesias in eleven patients, pain on passive stretch in ten, sensory deficit in nine, motor deficit in eight, pulses in seven, pain in five, and tenseness in three. The documentation was incomplete with regard to the blood and compartment pressures for sixteen and six patients, respectively. Conclusions: The documentation of the core history and physical examination findings was inadequate in this series of patients with compartment syndrome. On the basis of the results of this study, and through an organizational systems approach, we have instituted for our residents, nursing staff, and faculty an educational program on the documentation of compartment syndrome in patients who are at risk for this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-350
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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