As Trauma Centers Shut down, Injured Patients at Risk of Fatality

Sunday, March 16, 2014

As more and more trauma centers across the country are forced to shut down operations, severely injured patients who depend heavily on the kind of emergency treatment provided by a trauma care center may be at a heightened risk of fatality.

According to new research, the closure of these centers across the country is placing lives at risk, and is tied to an increased fatality risk for injured patients. A trauma care center is equipped with the kind of emergency medical equipment that is necessary to save the life of a critically injured patient. Typically, when a patient has been very severely injured as the result of a major auto, trucking or train accident, or sustains any other injury which places him at a severe risk of death, he needs to be rushed to a trauma care center where he can receive the treatment necessary to stabilize his condition.

The transfer to a trauma care center needs to happen immediately, and as soon as the patient has been injured. When a trauma care center is located far away from the site of the accident or injury, too much precious time passes before the patient can be transferred to the center. With every passing second, his risk of dying increases.

The researchers examined data involving more than 270,000 patients, and analyzed the effects of the closure of three centers in California between 1999 and 2009 to find out the association between the closure of the centers, and heightened patient fatality risk. They found that when one trauma center closed, patients who were now forced to travel much further to a trauma center were 21% more likely to succumb to their injuries in the hospital, compared to patients who did not have to travel that far to access trauma care. They also found that the risk of fatality seemed to be highest in the first two months after the trauma care center closed down.


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