TRAUMA OUTCOME IMPROVES FOLLOWING THE ADVANCED TRAUMA LIFE SUPPORT PROGRAM IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY

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Abstract

Trauma outcome variables before and after the institution of the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program were compared for the largest hospital in Trinidad and Tobago from July 1981 through December 1985 (pre-ATLS) and from January 1986 to June 1990 (post-ATLS). A total of 199 physicians were ATLS trained by June 1990. Outcome data were analyzed for all dead or severely injured patients (ISS ≥16; n = 413 pre-ATLS and n = 400 post-ATLS). Trauma mortality decreased post-ATLS (134 of 400 vs. 279 of 413) throughout the hospital, including the ICU (13.6% post-ATLS ICU mortality vs. 55.2% pre-ATLS). The odds of dying from trauma increased with age (1.02 for each year), ISS score (1.24 for each ISS increment), and blunt injury, both pre-ATLS and post-ATLS. Post-ATLS mortality was associated with a higher ISS (31.6 vs. 28.8). Although there was a higher percentage of blunt injury pre-ATLS (84.0%) versus post-ATLS (68.3%), the mortality rates for both blunt and penetrating injuries were higher in the pre-ATLS group (19.7% pre-ATLS vs. 6.3% post-ATLS for penetrating and 76.6% pre-ATLS versus 46.2% post-ATLS for blunt). For each ISS category, mortality was greater in the pre-ATLS group (ISS ≥24 pre-ATLS mortality 47.9% vs. 16.7% post-ATLS; ISS 25–40 pre-ATLS mortality 91.0% vs. 71.0% post-ATLS). The overall ratio of observed to expected mortality based on the MTOS data base was lower for the post-ATLS period (pre-ATLS ratio 3.16; post-ATLS ratio 1.94). Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that although post-ATLS mortality was affected by the lower incidence of blunt injury and a lower overall ISS score, the ATLS program was a significant factor in determining the observed decrease in mortality. Postinjury functional status among survivors was improved post-ATLS (minor disability 88.3% post-ATLS vs. 22.4% pre-ATLS and major disability 1.9% post-ATLS vs. 6.7% pre-ATLS). Our data demonstrate that the ATLS program significantly improved trauma patient outcome in a developing country, thus supporting the concept of international promulgation of this program for physicians.

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