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Patterns of Early Mortality after Trauma in a Neighborhood Urban Trauma Center: Can We Improve Outcomes?

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Even with specialized trauma systems, a significant number of deaths occur within the early postinjury period. Our goal was to examine deaths within this period for cause and determine if care could improve outcomes. A retrospective chart review was performed on all patients who were dead on arrival or died within 4 hours of arrival between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2011. Survival probabilities and Injury Severity Score (ISS) were calculated. Chart review and trauma review processes were used to determine cases with opportunities for care improvement. Two hundred eighty-nine patients were dead on arrival (DOA), and 176 patients died within 4 hours of arrival. The most common mechanism of injury was gunshot wounds (68.4%). The most common causes of death were uncontrolled hemorrhage (68.2%) and neurologic trauma (23.4%). Average ISS was 32. Twenty-nine patients had survival probability percentages over 50. Ten of 176 (5.7%) deaths were found to have opportunities for care improvement. In three cases (1.7%), errors contributed to death. The majority of trauma patients DOA or dying within 4 hours of hospital arrival have nonsurvivable injuries. Regular trauma review processes are invaluable in determining opportunities for care improvement. Autopsy information increases the reliability of the review process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Trauma Surgery, Sinai Grace Hospital, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Publication date: 01 August 2013

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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