When is an elder old? Effect of preexisting conditions on mortality in geriatric trauma

J Trauma. 2002 Feb;52(2):242-6. doi: 10.1097/00005373-200202000-00007.


Background: As the U.S. population ages, the number of geriatric trauma victims will continue to grow. Outcomes are known to be worse for these patients, in large part because of preexisting conditions (PECs). The specific impact of various PECs on outcome in geriatric trauma has not been well studied because of heterogeneous data sets and sample sizes.

Methods: We sought to define the impact of clinical variables and PECs on mortality in geriatric trauma by analyzing a large statewide trauma database. We defined geriatric trauma patients as those age > or = 65. Isolated hip fractures were excluded. We used multiple logistic regression to determine the effect of 21 different PECs on 30-day in-hospital mortality.

Results: Data were abstracted from 33,781 patient records. Overall mortality was 7.6%. For each 1-year increase in age beyond age 65, odds of dying after geriatric trauma increased by 6.8% (95% confidence interval, 6.1-7.5%). When presenting vital signs, Glasgow Coma Scale score, and ISS were controlled, PECs with the strongest effect on mortality were hepatic disease (odds ratio [OR], 5.1), renal disease (OR, 3.1), and cancer (OR, 1.8). Chronic steroid use increased the odds of death after geriatric trauma (OR, 1.6), whereas Coumadin therapy did not.

Conclusion: Considered independently, these data are insufficient to allow withdrawal of care, but this information may be a useful component to help in guiding families faced with difficult decisions after geriatric trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*