During resuscitation, an interdisciplinary, ad hoc trauma team rapidly identifies and treats life-threatening injuries following an established protocol. The goal is to stabilize critically injured patients and develop a plan for definitive care. Timely and accurate sharing and interpretation of information collected in the field and en route to the hospital—pre-hospital communication—is a critical first step towards achieving this goal. Despite its critical role, communication between care providers in the field and those in the hospital remains inefficient, requiring further study.

In this project, we examine coordination and real-time information sharing as the pre-hospital information flows across four emergency medical teams—from emergency medical services (EMS) teams in the field to teams in the emergency communication centers, to teams in the emergency departments, and to trauma teams at the point of care. In particular, we ask how is common understanding of the pre-hospital information established across these teams, what coordination mechanisms are used, and what challenges exist and how to address them to support seamless information sharing and interpretation.


To answer these questions, we conducted multiple field studies in an urban teaching hospital and trauma center, and drew on the CSCW concept of Common Information Spaces (CIS). We found that teams faced many challenges in constructing the pre-hospital CIS, including difficulties in locating and assembling team members, communicating and interpreting information from the field, and reconciling the differences in team perspectives and information needs, all while having minimal technology support.


Related papers & presentations:

  • Zhang, Z. and Sarcevic, A., “Pre-hospital information use during trauma resuscitation,” in Proceedings of the iConference 2015, 4 pages, Newport Beach, California, March 24-25, 2015.
  • Zhang, Z. and Sarcevic, A., “An analysis of pre-hospital communication in emergency care,” presented at the ACM CSCW 2013 Workshop “Beyond Formality: Informal Communication in Health Practices,” San Antonio, Texas, February 24, 2013.
  • Zhang, Z., “Supporting the pre-hospital information sharing, use and retention during emergency medical resuscitations,” presented at the AMIA 2014 Doctoral Consortium, Washington, DC, November 14-19, 2014.