Background The role of advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants in emergency departments, trauma centers, and critical care is becoming more widely accepted. These personnel, collectively known as advanced practice providers, expand physicians’ capabilities and are being increasingly recruited to provide care and perform invasive procedures that were previously performed exclusively by physicians.
Objectives To determine whether the quality of tube thoracostomies performed by advanced practice providers is comparable to that performed by trauma surgeons and to ascertain whether the complication rates attributable to tube thoracostomies differ on the basis of who performed the procedure.
Methods Retrospective blinded reviews of patients’ charts and radiographs were conducted to determine differences in quality indicators, complications, and outcomes of tube thoracostomies by practitioner type: trauma surgeons vs advanced practice providers.
Results Differences between practitioner type in insertion complications, complications requiring additional interventions, hospital length of stay, and morbidity were not significant. The only significant difference was a complication related to placement of the tube: when the tube extended caudad, toward the feet, from the insertion site. Interrater reliability ranged from good to very good.
Conclusions Use of advanced practice providers provides consistent and quality tube thoracostomies. Employment of these practitioners may be a safe and reasonable solution for staffing trauma centers.