Article

Helicopter vs Ground Transportation for Patients With Trauma

JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association (Impact Factor: 30.39). 08/2012; 308(6):564-5; author reply 565. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.7774
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Helicopter emergency medical services and their possible effect on outcomes for traumatically injured patients remain a subject of debate. Because helicopter services are a limited and expensive resource, a methodologically rigorous investigation of its effectiveness compared with ground emergency medical services is warranted. To assess the association between the use of helicopter vs ground services and survival among adults with serious traumatic injuries. Retrospective cohort study involving 223,475 patients older than 15 years, having an injury severity score higher than 15, and sustaining blunt or penetrating trauma that required transport to US level I or II trauma centers and whose data were recorded in the 2007-2009 versions of the American College of Surgeons National Trauma Data Bank. Transport by helicopter or ground emergency services to level I or level II trauma centers. Survival to hospital discharge and discharge disposition. A total of 61,909 patients were transported by helicopter and 161,566 patients were transported by ground. Overall, 7813 patients (12.6%) transported by helicopter died compared with 17,775 patients (11%) transported by ground services. Before propensity score matching, patients transported by helicopter to level I and level II trauma centers had higher Injury Severity Scores. In the propensity score-matched multivariable regression model, for patients transported to level I trauma centers, helicopter transport was associated with an improved odds of survival compared with ground transport (odds ratio [OR], 1.16; 95% CI, 1.14-1.17; P < .001; absolute risk reduction [ARR], 1.5%). For patients transported to level II trauma centers, helicopter transport was associated with an improved odds of survival (OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.13-1.17; P < .001; ARR, 1.4%). A greater proportion (18.2%) of those transported to level I trauma centers by helicopter were discharged to rehabilitation compared with 12.7% transported by ground services (P < .001), and 9.3% transported by helicopter were discharged to intermediate facilities compared with 6.5% by ground services (P < .001). Fewer patients transported by helicopter left level II trauma centers against medical advice (0.5% vs 1.0%, P < .001). Among patients with major trauma admitted to level I or level II trauma centers, transport by helicopter compared with ground services was associated with improved survival to hospital discharge after controlling for multiple known confounders.
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the effect of race and insurance status on trauma mortality. Review of patients (aged 18-64 years; Injury Severity Score > or = 9) included in the National Trauma Data Bank (2001-2005). African American and Hispanic patients were each compared with white patients and insured patients were compared with uninsured patients. Multiple logistic regression analyses determined differences in survival rates after adjusting for demographics, injury severity (Injury Severity Score and revised Trauma Score), severity of head and/or extremity injury, and injury mechanism. A total of 429 751 patients met inclusion criteria. African American (n = 72,249) and Hispanic (n = 41,770) patients were less likely to be insured and more likely to sustain penetrating trauma than white patients (n = 262,878). African American and Hispanic patients had higher unadjusted mortality rates (white, 5.7%; African American, 8.2%; Hispanic, 9.1%; P = .05 for African American and Hispanic patients) and an increased adjusted odds ratio (OR) of death compared with white patients (African American OR, 1.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10-1.23; Hispanic OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.39-1.57). Insured patients (47%) had lower crude mortality rates than uninsured patients (4.4% vs 8.6%; P = .05). Insured African American and Hispanic patients had increased mortality rates compared with insured white patients. This effect worsened for uninsured patients across groups (insured African American OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.08-1.33; insured Hispanic OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.36-1.64; uninsured white OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.46-1.64; uninsured African American OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.65-1.90; uninsured Hispanic OR, 2.30; 95% CI, 2.13-2.49). The reference group was insured white patients. Race and insurance status each independently predicts outcome disparities after trauma. African American, Hispanic, and uninsured patients have worse outcomes, but insurance status appears to have the stronger association with mortality after trauma.
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