Pediatric Injuries Treated at a Level 1 Trauma Center After an F5 Tornado

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On May 22, 2011, an F5 tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, Mo, resulting in over 150 fatalities and over 750 injuries. Pediatric trauma centers in the region needed to be prepared to receive patients. Little data exist on the types of patients who are received at pediatric trauma centers after disasters such as tornados.


The purpose of this study is to describe the patients received at the nearest level 1 pediatric trauma center after the tornado.


Cases were identified through the trauma registry. Data regarding patient demographics, past medical history, characteristics of injury, treatment received, and outcomes were obtained retrospectively from medical records.


A total of 10 patients were received at the pediatric trauma center. Traumatic brain injury was the most common diagnosis followed by orthopedic and maxillofacial injuries. Seven patients required surgical procedures in the operating room, but only 1 patient required surgery within the first 24 hours of arrival. Eight patients were intubated and were in the pediatric intensive care unit. The average length of stay in the hospital was 19.4 days with a range of 14 hours to 94 days.


Immediately after a significant tornado in the referral region, pediatric trauma centers need to prepare to receive patients. Head injuries will likely be common, and pediatric trauma centers will likely receive multiple intubated patients. Knowledge of injuries received and resources needed can better prepare these trauma centers for future devastating tornadoes.

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