American College of Surgeons trauma center verification versus state designation: Are Level II centers slipping through the cracks?

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Single-center experience has shown that American College of Surgeons (ACS) trauma verification can improve outcomes. The current objective was to compare mortality between ACS-verified and state-designated centers in a national sample.

METHODS

Subjects 16 years or older from ACS-verified or state-designated Level I and II centers were identified in the National Trauma Databank 2007 to 2008. A predictive mortality model was constructed using Trauma Quality Improvement Project methodology. Imputation was used for missing data. Probability of mortality in the model determined expected deaths. Observed-to-expected (O/E) mortality ratios with 90% confidence interval (CI) and outliers (90% CI more than or less than 1.0) were compared across ACS and state Level I and II centers. The mortality model was repeated with ACS versus state included.

RESULTS

There were 900,274 subjects. The model had an area under the curve of 0.92 to predict death. Level I ACS centers had a lower median O/E ratio compared with state centers (0.95 [interquartile range, 0.82–1.05] vs. 1.02 [interquartile range, 0.87–1.15]; p < 0.01), with no difference in Level II centers. Level II state centers had more high O/E outliers. ACS verification was an independent predictor of survival in Level II centers (odds ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.20–1.32; p < 0.01) but not in Level I centers (p = 0.84).

CONCLUSION

Level II centers have a disproportionate number of high mortality outliers, and ACS verification is a predictor of survival. Level I ACS centers have lower O/E ratios overall, but no difference in outliers. ACS verification seems beneficial. These data suggest that Level II centers benefit most, and promoting Level II ACS verification may be an opportunity for improved outcomes.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Prognostic study, level III.

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