A population-based analysis of injury-related deaths and access to trauma care in rural-remote Northwest British Columbia

J Trauma. 2010 Jul;69(1):11-9. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181e17b39.


Background: Injury rates and injury mortality rates are generally higher in rural and remote communities compared with urban jurisdictions as has been shown to be the case in the rural-remote area of Northwest (NW) British Columbia (BC). The purpose of study was to identify: (1) the place and timing of death following injury in NW BC, (2) access to and quality of local trauma services, and (3) opportunities to improve trauma outcomes.

Methods: Quantitative data from demographic and geographic databases, the BC Trauma Registry, Hospital discharge abstract database, and the BC Coroner's Office, along with qualitative data from chart reviews of selected major trauma cases, and interviews with front-line trauma care providers were collated and analyzed for patients sustaining injury in NW BC from April 2001 to March 2006.

Results: The majority of trauma deaths (82%) in NW BC occur prehospital. Patients arriving alive to NW hospitals have low hospital mortality (1.0%), and patients transferring from NW BC to tertiary centers have better outcomes than matched patients achieving direct entry into the tertiary center by way of geographic proximity. Access to local trauma services was compromised by: incident discovery, limited phone service (land lines/cell), incomplete 911 emergency medical services system access, geographical and climate challenges compounded by limited transportation options, airport capabilities and paramedic training level, dysfunctional hospital no-refusal policies, lack of a hospital destination policies, and lack of system leadership and coordination.

Conclusion: Improving trauma outcomes in this rural-remote jurisdiction requires a systems approach to address root causes of delays in access to care, focusing on improved access to emergency medical services, hospital bypass and destination protocols, improved transportation options, advanced life support transfer capability, and designated, coordinated local trauma services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*