Advanced Trauma Life Support certified physicians in a non trauma system setting: is it enough?

Resuscitation. 2011 Feb;82(2):180-4. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2010.10.005. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of ATLS(®) on trauma mortality in a non-trauma system setting. ATLS represents a fundamental element of trauma training in every trauma curriculum. Nevertheless, there are limited studies in the literature as for the impact of ATLS training in trauma mortality, especially outside the US.

Design: This is a prospective observational study. The primary end point was to investigate factors that affect mortality of trauma patients in our health care system. We performed a multivariate analysis for this purpose and we identified ATLS certification as a predictor of overall mortality. Following this finding we stratified patients according to the severity of injury as expressed by the ISS score and we compared outcome between those treated by an ATLS certified physician and those treated by non-certified ones.

Main outcome measures: Trauma volume and demographics of trauma patients, factors that affect mortality of traumatized patients and mortality between patients treated by ATLS(®) certified and non-certified physicians.

Results: In total, 8862 trauma patients were included in the analysis. The majority of trauma patients (5988, 67.6%) were treated by a general surgeon, followed by those treated by an orthopedic surgeon (2194, 24.8%). There were 446 deaths in the registry but, 260 arrived dead in the Emergency Department and were excluded from the analysis. Multivariate analysis of the 186 deaths that occurred in the hospital revealed age, high ISS score, low GCS score, urban location of injury, neck injury and ATLS(®) certification as factors predisposing to mortality. Cross tabulation of ATLS(®) certification and ISS of the trauma patients shows that those treated by certified physicians died more often in all subcategories of ISS score (p<0.05).

Conclusions: In Greece, with no formal trauma system implementation, ATLS(®) certified physicians achieve worse outcomes than their non-certified colleagues when managing trauma patients. We believe that these findings must be interpreted in the context of the National health care system. There is considerable room for improvement in our country, and further analysis is required.

MeSH terms

  • Certification*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resuscitation* / education
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*