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Helicopter Transport Use for Trauma Patients Is Decreasing Significantly Nationwide but Remains Overutilized

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Rapid transfer of trauma patients to a trauma center for definitive management is essential to increase survival. The utilization of helicopter transportation for this purpose remains heavily debated. The purpose of this study was to characterize the trends in helicopter transportations of trauma patients in the United States over the last decade. Subjects with a primary mode of either ground or helicopter transportation were selected from the National Trauma Data Bank datasets 2007 to 2015. Over this period, the proportion of patients transported by a helicopter decreased significantly in a linear fashion from 17 per cent in 2007 to 10.2 per cent in 2015 (P < 0.001). The overall mortality of this population was 7.6 per cent and remained unchanged over the study period (P = 0.545). Almost 3 of 10 subjects (29.4%) transported by a helicopter had an Injury Severity Score <9. The proportion of elderly (>65 years) patients requiring helicopter transportation increased by 69.1 per cent, whereas their associated mortality decreased by 21.5 per cent. The use of a helicopter for the transportation of trauma patients has significantly decreased over the last decade without any significant change in mortality, possibly indicating more effective utilization of available resources. Overtriage of patients with minor injuries remained relatively unchanged.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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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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