Direct admission versus inter-hospital transfer to a level I trauma unit improves survival
An audit of the new Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital trauma unit
AbstractObjective. To audit the performance of a new level I trauma unit and trauma intensive care unit. Methods. Data on patients admitted to the level I trauma unit and trauma intensive care unit at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, from March 2007 to December 2008 were retrieved from the hospital informatics system and an independent database in the trauma unit. Results. Four hundred and seven patients were admitted; 71% of admissions were inter-hospital transfers (IHT) and 29% direct from scene (DIR). The median age was 27 years (range 1 - 83), and 71% were male. Blunt injury accounted for 66.3% of admissions and penetrating trauma for 33.7%. Of the former, motor vehicle-related injury accounted for 87.4%, with 81% of paediatric admissions due to pedestrian-related injuries. The median injury severity score (ISS) for the entire cohort was 22 (survivors 18, deaths 29; p<0.001). Patients in the DIR group had a significantly higher mean ISS compared with the IHT group (DIR 25, IHT 20; p<0.02). The overall mortality rate was 26.3%. There were 37 deaths (31.1%) in the DIR group and 70 (24.3%) in the IHT group (p=0.19). In patients surviving more than 12 hours the overall mortality rate was 21.1% (DIR 13.7%, IHT 23.5%; p=0.042). Conclusions. Trauma is a major cause of premature death in the young. Despite a significantly higher median ISS in direct admissions, there was no difference in mortality. Of those surviving more than 12 hours, patients admitted directly had a significant decrease in mortality. Dedicated trauma units improve outcome in the critically injured.
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