Background: Studies of sexual dimorphism in trauma outcomes suggest that women have a survival advantage compared to equivalently injured men. It is unknown if this gender disparity is mediated by potentially life-threatening complications.
Objective: To determine (1) if there is a sex-based differences in the odds of developing inpatient complications after trauma, and (2) if are these complications associated with death among trauma patients.
Methods: Review of adult trauma patients admitted to hospitals in the National Trauma Data Bank that report complications. Patient and injury severity covariates were adjusted using multiple logistic regression and the independent effect of sex on developing complications and associated mortality was determined.
Results: A total of 681,730 adult patients met the inclusion criteria of hospital admission > or =3 days. Women demonstrated a 21% lower adjusted risk of death compared to males (OR 0.79, 95% CI 0.76-0.83). Females had decreased adjusted odds of developing life-threatening complications including pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, acute renal failure and pulmonary embolism. However, when compared to males with life-threatening complications, females with complications were found to be at greater risk of dying.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that women are less likely than men to develop inpatient complications, suggesting that the survival advantage among women after traumatic injury may involve a reduced susceptibility to developing life-threatening complications.