Objectives: To determine the association between mortality and the level of prehospital care in severely injured blunt trauma patients with or without severe head injury.
Method: Retrospective review of 2010 severe blunt trauma patients (injury severity score (ISS) >15) with or without severe head injury in a tiered trauma system involving ambulance officers (basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (ALS)) and physicians, and a Level 1 trauma centre.
Results: After adjusting for age, type of head injury, glasgow coma scale score (GCS), systolic blood pressure, ISS and prehospital time, intensive care unit (ICU) admission modified the association between level of prehospital care and mortality. In those patients without ICU admission, patients in the paramedic and physician-staffed emergency services group were more likely to die than patients in the BLS ambulance group (odds ratio (OR) 2.18, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.05-4.55; 4.27, 95% CI: 1.46-12.45, respectively). Among patients who survived to ICU treatment, however, there was no association between level of prehospital care and risk of mortality. Presence or absence of a head injury did not modify the risk of mortality.
Conclusions: The level of prehospital care was associated with the risk of mortality. This was modified by whether the patient survived long enough to be admitted to the ICU.