Impact of discontinuing a hospital-based air ambulance service on trauma patient outcomes

J Trauma. 2002 Mar;52(3):486-91. doi: 10.1097/00005373-200203000-00012.


Background: The clinical benefit of aeromedical transportation of injured patients in the civilian population has been debated. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of discontinuing a hospital-based helicopter transport program on trauma patient outcomes, with the hypothesis that the loss of an air ambulance would result in increased transport time and increased mortality among severely injured patients.

Methods: Data on injury severity and patient outcomes were collected prospectively for the 12 months immediately preceding and 24 months following discontinuation of the helicopter ambulance service. Transport time, mortality rate, and hospital length of stay was compared.

Results: The number of trauma patient admissions decreased 12%, with a 17% decrease in admissions of severely injured patients. Transport time decreased, with no change in mortality.

Conclusion: Discontinuation of a hospital-based air ambulance service did not increase transport time or increase mortality for trauma patients.

MeSH terms

  • Air Ambulances*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Multiple Trauma / mortality*
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries
  • Texas
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation of Patients / statistics & numerical data*