Background: Reducing the global burden of injury requires both injury prevention and improved trauma care. We sought to provide an estimate of the number of lives that could be saved by improvements in trauma care, especially in low income and middle income countries.
Methods: Prior data showed differences in case fatality rates for seriously injured persons (Injury Severity Score ≥ 9) in three separate locations: Seattle, WA (high income; case fatality 35%); Monterrey, Mexico (middle income; case fatality 55%); and Kumasi, Ghana (low income; case fatality 63%). For the present study, total numbers of injury deaths in all countries in different economic strata were obtained from the Global Burden of Disease study. The number of lives that could potentially be saved from improvements in trauma care globally was calculated as the difference in current number of deaths from trauma in low income and middle income countries minus the number of deaths that would have occurred if case fatality rates in these locations were decreased to the case fatality rate in high income countries.
Results: Between 1,730,000 and 1,965,000 lives could be saved in low income and middle income countries if case fatality rates among seriously injured persons could be reduced to those in high income countries. This amounts to 34-38% of all injury deaths.
Conclusions: A significant number of lives could be saved by improvements in trauma care globally. This is another piece of evidence in support of investment in and greater attention to strengthening trauma care services globally.