The impact of specialist trauma service on major trauma mortality

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Trauma services throughout the world have had positive effects on trauma-related mortality. Australian trauma services are generally more consultative in nature rather than the North American model of full trauma admission service. We hypothesized that the introduction of a consultative specialist trauma service in a Level I Australian trauma center would reduce mortality of the severely injured.


A 10-year retrospective study (January 1, 2002–December 31, 2011) was performed on all trauma patients admitted with an Injury Severity Score (ISS) > 15. Patients were identified from the trauma registry, and data for age, sex, mechanism of injury, ISS, survival to discharge, and length of stay were collected. Mortality was examined for patients with severe injury (ISS > 15) and patients with critical injury (ISS > 24) and compared for the three periods: 2002–2004 (without trauma specialist), 2005–2007 (with trauma specialist), and 2008–2011 (with specialist trauma service).


A total of 3,869 severely injured (ISS > 15) trauma patients were identified during the 10-year period. Of these, 2,826 (73%) were male, 1,513 (39%) were critically injured (ISS > 24), and more than 97% (3,754) were the victim of blunt trauma. Overall mortality decreased from 12.4% to 9.3% (relative risk, 0.75) from period one to period three and from 25.4% to 20.3% (relative risk, 0.80) for patients with critical injury. A 0.46% per year decrease (p = 0.018) in mortality was detected (odds ratio, 0.63; p < 0.001). For critically injured (ISS > 24), the trend was (0.61% per year; odds ratio, 0.68; p = 0.039).


The introduction of a specialist trauma service decreased the mortality of patients with severe injury, the model of care should be considered to implement state- and nationwide in Australia.


Epidemiologic study, level III.

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