This report uses a mathematical modeling system to define optimal orthopedic coverage for trauma centers.Data from 2,325 patients treated with emergency orthopedic operations within 24 hours of admission at 78 randomly sampled and at four totally sampled verified centers were used to create a profile of (1) admission by month, day, and hour; (2) operation times; and (3) operation duration. The reason for operation included (1) open fracture or crush (809 patients); (2) irreducible dislocations (164 patients); (3) fracture with vascular injury (seven patients); (4) dislocation with vascular injury (17 patients); (5) compartment syndrome (11 patients); (6) femoral neck fracture in young patients (36 patients); (7) combination of categories 1 to 6 (70 patients); (8) fracture with multiple injuries (171 patients); and (9) urgent not emergent (1,040 patients). The program defined the frequency that an injured patient needing an orthopedic consult would wait beyond 30 minutes because the orthopedic surgeon was doing a trauma related operation at a center with one or two orthopedic surgeons on call.
The probability that a patient cannot be seen promptly by one orthopedic surgeon in a center doing 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, and 300 emergency procedures per year is 0.17, 0.74, 1.6, 3.1, 12.5, and 28 patients per year. When two are on call, 1.3 patients, yearly, will wait more than 30 minutes in a center doing 300 emergency procedures. Thus, mandatory orthopedic backup call for a trauma center performing fewer than 100 emergent trauma procedures within 24 hours is unwarranted.