Background: The Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) course has been widely implemented and approximately half a million prehospital caregivers in over 50 countries have taken this course. Still, the effect on injury outcome remains to be established. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between PHTLS training of ambulance crew members and the mortality in trauma patients.
Methods: A population-based observational study of 2830 injured patients, who either died or were hospitalized for more than 24 h, was performed during gradual implementation of PHTLS in Uppsala County in Sweden between 1998 and 2004. Prehospital patient records were linked to hospital-discharge records, cause-of-death records, and information on PHTLS training and the educational level of ambulance crews. The main outcome measure was death, on scene or in hospital.
Results: Adjusting for multiple potential confounders, PHTLS training appeared to be associated with a reduction in mortality, but the precision of this estimate was poor (odds ratio, 0.71; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-1.19). The mortality risk was 4.7% (36/763) without PHTLS training and 4.5% (94/2067) with PHTLS training. The predicted absolute risk reduction is estimated to correspond to 0.5 lives saved annually per 100,000 population with PHTLS fully implemented.
Conclusions: PHTLS training of ambulance crew members may be associated with reduced mortality in trauma patients, but the precision in this estimate was low due to the overall low mortality. While there may be a relative risk reduction, the predicted absolute risk reduction in this population was low.
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