Background: The establishment of trauma systems was anticipated to improve overall survival for the severely injured patient. We systematically reviewed the published literature to assess if outcome from severe traumatic injury is improved for patients following the establishment of a trauma system.
Methods: A systematic literature review of all population-based studies that evaluated trauma system performance was conducted. A qualitative analysis of each study's design and methodology and a meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the evidence to date of trauma system effectiveness.
Results: A search of the literature yielded 14 published articles. Trauma systems demonstrated improved odds of survival in 8 of the 14 reports. The overall quality-weighted odds ratio was 0.85 lower mortality following trauma system implementation.
Conclusions: The results of the meta-analysis showed a 15% reduction in mortality in favor of the presence of a trauma system. Evaluation of trauma system effectiveness must remain an uncompromising commitment to optimal outcome for the injured patient.