Effect of regional trauma centralization on volume, injury severity and outcomes of injured patients admitted to trauma centres

Br J Surg. 2014 Jul;101(8):959-64. doi: 10.1002/bjs.9498.


Background: Centralization of complex healthcare services into specialist high-volume centres is believed to improve outcomes. For injured patients, few studies have evaluated the centralization of major trauma services. The aim of this study was to evaluate how a regional trauma network affected trends in admissions, case mix, and outcomes of injured patients.

Methods: A retrospective before-after study was undertaken of severely injured patients attending four hospitals that became major trauma centres (MTCs) in March 2012. Consecutive patients with major trauma were identified from a national registry and divided into two groups according to injury before or after the launch of a new trauma network. The two cohorts were compared for differences in case mix, demand on hospital resources, and outcomes.

Results: Patient volume increased from 442 to 1326 (200 per cent), operations from 349 to 1231 (253 per cent), critical care bed-days from 1100 to 3704 (237 per cent), and total hospital bed-days from 7910 to 22,772 (188 per cent). Patient age increased on MTC designation from 45.0 years before March 2012 to 48.2 years afterwards (P = 0.021), as did the proportion of penetrating injuries (1.8 versus 4.1 per cent; P = 0.025). Injury severity fell as measured by median Injury Severity Score (16 versus 14) and Revised Trauma Score (4.1 versus 7.8). Fewer patients required secondary transfer to a MTC from peripheral hospitals (19.9 versus 16.1 per cent; P = 0.100). There were no significant differences in total duration of hospital stay, critical care requirements or mortality. However, there was a significant increase, from 55.5 to 62.3 per cent (P < 0.001), in the proportion of patients coded as having a 'good recovery' at discharge after institution of the trauma network.

Conclusion: MTC designation leads to an increased case volume with considerable implications for operating theatre capacity and bed occupancy. Although no mortality benefit was demonstrated within 6 months of establishing this trauma network, early detectable advantages included improved functional outcome at discharge.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bed Occupancy / statistics & numerical data
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • England
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / trends
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration*
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*