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Nighttime Trauma Fellow Care Is Associated with Improved Outcomes after Injury

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Time of admission and surgeon experience may explain variations in trauma outcomes. We hypothesized that earlier admission time by a more experienced trauma surgeon leads to improved outcomes after injury. We conducted a retrospective cohort study using trauma registry and performance improvement data at our Level 1 trauma center. Consecutive patients presenting at night from 2013 to 2014 were dichotomized into early (6:00 pm‐12:00 am) and late (12:01 am‐7:00 am) cohorts. Second year trauma fellows acting as attendings and staff trauma surgeons were categorized as less and more experienced, respectively. The primary study outcome was any complication tracked by our state registry, missed injury, delay in diagnosis, or death. The influence of admission time and trauma surgeon experience on this endpoint was examined using multivariable logistic regression. A total of 2078 patients presented either during early (n = 1189) or late (n = 889) night. The cohorts were not different with respect to Deyo‐Charlson index, systolic blood pressure, Glasgow Coma Scale, Injury Severity Core, admitting trauma surgeon age, experience, or unadjusted primary study outcome (early 14 vs late 16%; P = 0.206). Trauma surgeon experience was independently predictive of outcomes. Trauma patients admitted at night by fellows were 29 per cent less likely to sustain complications or death than those admitted by staff (adjusted odds ratio 0.71; 95% confidence interval: 0.54‐0.92, P = 0.010). This protective effect of fellow care was found only in patients admitted after midnight (P = 0.03). In conclusion, nighttime initial trauma care by fellows was associated with improved outcomes. Possible explanations include more oversight of nighttime fellow care, variations in daytime responsibilities between fellows and staff, and differential effects of sleep loss by age.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care, and Emergency Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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