The 15-Year Evolution of an Urban Trauma Center: What Does the Future Hold for the Trauma Surgeon?

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BackgroundSafer cars, decreased violence, and nonoperative management have changed the trauma patient’s nature. We evaluated changes in a Level I trauma center over 15 years and considered their effect on trauma surgeons.MethodsFrom January 1985 through August 1999, 16,799 trauma registry patients were analyzed for mechanism of injury, Injury Severity Score, and procedures.ResultsMean Injury Severity Score decreased from 15.9 to 10.7 and length of stay fell from 8.0 days to 5.9 days. There were significant decreases in penetrating trauma admissions and percentage of patients with Abbreviated Injury Scale score > 3 for head, chest, and abdomen. Frequency of craniotomy, thoracotomy, and laparotomy dropped dramatically.ConclusionSignificant decreases in injury severity, penetrating violence, and operations have occurred over 15 years. These changes will have profound effects on the practice of trauma surgeons and on surgical education.

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