Are trauma patients better off in a trauma ICU?

J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2008 Jul;1(2):74-7. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.43183.


There is very little data on the value of specialized intensive care unit (ICU) care in the literature. To determine if specialize ICU care for the trauma patient improved outcomes in this patient population. Level I Trauma Center Compared outcomes of trauma patients treated in a surgical trauma ICU (STICU) to those treated in non- trauma ICUs (non-STICU). Retrospective review of trauma registry data.

Statistical analysis: Wilcoxon Rank Test, Fischer's Exact test, logistic regression. There were 1146 STICU patients compared to 1475 non-STICU. In all ISS groups there were more penetrating trauma patients in the STICU (32.54% STICU vs. 18.15% non-STICU, P<0.0001 (ISS< 15)), (21.03% STICU vs. 12.98% non-STICU, P=0.0074 (ISS between 15-25)), and (19.42% STICU vs. 11.35% non-STICU, P=0.0026 (ISS> 25)). All groups had similar lengths of stay. The blunt trauma patients were sicker in the STICU (20.8 ISS +/- 12.2 STICU vs. 19.7 ISS +/- 11.9 non-STICU, P=0.03) yet had similar outcomes to the non-STICU group. Logistic regression identified penetrating trauma and not ICU location as a predictor of mortality. Sicker STICU patients do as well as less injured non-STICU patients. Severely injured patients should be preferentially treated in a STICU where they are better equipped to care for the complex multi-trauma patient. All patients, regardless of location, do well when their management is guided by a surgical critical care team.

Keywords: ICU; intensivist; outcomes; trauma.