Trauma registries have been designed to serve a number of purposes, including quality improvement, injury prevention, clinical research, and policy development. Since their inception over 30 years ago, there are increasingly more institutions with trauma registries, many of which submit data to a national trauma registry. The goal of this review is to describe the history, logistics, and characteristics of trauma registries and their contribution to emergency medicine and trauma research. Discussed in this review are the limitations of trauma registries, such as variability in quality and type of the collected data, absence of data pertaining to long-term and functional outcomes, prehospital information, and complications as well as other methodologic obstacles limiting the utility of registry data in clinical and epidemiologic research.
© 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.