Background: Elderly trauma patients have been shown to have a worse prognosis than young patients. Age alone is not a criterion for trauma team activation (TTA). In the present study, we evaluated the role of age > or = 70 years as a criterion for TTA.
Methods: The present study was a trauma registry study that included injured patients 70 years of age or older. Patients who died in hospital, were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) within 24 hours, or had a non-orthopedic operation were assumed to benefit from TTA.
Results: During a 7.5-year period, 883 elderly (> or = 70 years) trauma patients meeting trauma center criteria were admitted to our center. Overall, 223 patients (25%) met at least one of the standard TTA criteria. The mortality in this group was 50%, the ICU admission rate was 39%, and a non-orthopedic operation was required in 35%. The remaining 660 patients (75%) did not meet standard TTA criteria. The mortality was 16%, the need for ICU admission was 24%, and non-orthopedic operations were required in 19%. Sixty-three percent of patients with severe injuries (Injury Severity Score > 15) and 25% of patients with critical injuries (Injury Severity Score > 30) did not have any of the standard hemodynamic criteria for TTA.
Conclusion: Elderly trauma patients have a high mortality, even with fairly minor or moderately severe injuries. A significant number of elderly patients with severe injuries do not meet the standard criteria for TTA. It is suggested that age > or = 70 years alone should be a criterion for TTA.