Impact of a statewide trauma system on the triage, transfer, and inpatient mortality of injured patients

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2018 May;84(5):771-779. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000001825.


Background: In 2009, Arkansas implemented a statewide trauma system to address the high rates of mortality and morbidity due to trauma. The principal objective of the Arkansas Trauma System is to transport patients to the appropriate facility based on the injuries of the patients. This study evaluated four metrics that were crucial to system health. These measures included: treatment location, scene triage, admission to nondesignated facilities, and inpatient mortality. Furthermore, the authors sought to quantify how the system is selective toward the severely injured regarding triage and treatment location. The authors hypothesized that system implementation should increase the proportion of patients, particularly the severely injured, treated at Level I/II facilities. The system should increase the proportion of patients, especially the severely injured, admitted to Level I/II facilities directly from the scene. The system should result in fewer patients admitted to nondesignated facilities. Lastly, system implementation should result in fewer inpatient deaths.

Methods: A pre-post study design was used for this evaluation. Data from the Arkansas Hospital Discharge data set (2007 through 2012) identified patients who were admitted as a result of their injuries. The ICD-MAP software was used to categorize those with and without severe injuries based on an Injury Severity Score of 16 or greater or head Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 3 or greater.

Results: The results indicate that while there was an overall increase in odds of patients being admitted to Level I/II facilities, those with severe injuries were associated with an even greater odds of admission to Level I/II facilities (p < 0.0001). System implementation was also associated with more severely injured patients admitted to Level I/II facilities from the scene. There were also fewer patients admitted to nondesignated hospitals after system implementation (p < 0.0001). System implementation was associated with fewer inpatient deaths (p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Two years after implementation, the trauma system showed significant progress. The measures evaluated in this study are believed to support the effectiveness of the trauma system.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic study, level IV.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arkansas / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Transfer / organization & administration*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transportation of Patients / organization & administration
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration*
  • Triage / organization & administration*
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy
  • Young Adult