Objectives: Mortality differences exist between victims of urban and rural trauma. It is unknown if these differences persist in those patients who survive to HEMS transport. This study examined the in-hospital mortality, hospital LOS, and discharge status of pediatric blunt trauma victims transported by HEMS from rural and urban scenes.
Methods: Retrospective review of pediatric (< 17) transports between 1997 and 2001. 130 rural and 419 urban pediatric patients transported to area trauma centers were identified from HEMS and registry records.
Results: Total mileage, flight times, and scene times were significantly longer for rural flights (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences between the groups with regard to age, gender, vitals, hospital/ICU days, and mortality. After controlling for ISS and mechanism of injury, urban patients were 9 times more likely to die compared to rural patients.
Conclusions: Pediatric patients injured in urban areas had shorter total flight and scene times than pediatric patients flown from rural scenes. Higher adjusted in-hospital mortality rates in the urban group were likely a result of faster EMS response and transport times, which minimized out-of-hospital deaths. Factors prior to HEMS arrival may have more impact on the increased mortality rates of rural blunt trauma victims documented nationally.