Injury severity and comorbidities alone do not predict futility of care after geriatric trauma

J Palliat Med. 2015 Mar;18(3):246-50. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2014.0336. Epub 2014 Dec 10.


Background: When counseling surrogates of massively injured elderly trauma patients, the prognostic information they desire is rarely evidence based.

Objective: We sought to objectively predict futility of care in the massively injured elderly trauma patient using easily available parameters: age, Injury Severity Score (ISS), and preinjury comorbidities.

Methods: Two cohorts (70-79 years and ≥80 years) were constructed from The National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) for years 2007-2011. Comorbidities were tabulated for each patient. Mortality rates at every ISS score were tabulated for subjects with 0, 1, or ≥2 comorbidities. Futility was defined a priori as an in-hospital mortality rate of ≥95% in a cell with ≥5 subjects.

Results: A total of 570,442 subjects were identified (age 70-79 years, n=217,384; age ≥80 years, n=352,608). Overall mortality was 5.3% for ages 70-79 and 6.6% for ≥80 years. No individual ISS score was found to have a mortality rate of ≥95% for any number of comorbidities in either age cohort. The highest mortality rate seen in any cell was for an ISS of 66 in the ≥80 year-old cohort with no listed comorbidities (93.3%). When upper extremes of ISS were aggregated into deciles, mortality for both cohorts across all number of comorbidities was 45.5%-60.9% for ISS 40-49, 56.6%-81.4% for ISS 50-59, and 73.9%-93.3% for ISS ≥60.

Conclusions: ISS and preinjury comorbidities alone cannot be used to predict futility in massively injured elderly trauma patients. Future attempts to predict futility in these age groups may benefit from incorporating measures of physiologic distress.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Medical Futility*
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*