Importance: Rural, low-income, and historically underrepresented minority communities face substantial barriers to trauma care and experience high injury incidence and mortality rates. Characteristics of injury incident locations may contribute to poor injury outcomes.
Objective: To examine the association of injury scene characteristics with injury mortality.
Design, setting, and participants: In this cross-sectional study, data from trauma center and emergency medical services provided by emergency medical services companies and designated trauma centers in the state of Maryland from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015, were geocoded by injury incident locations and linked with injury scene characteristics. Participants included adults who experienced traumatic injury in Maryland and were transported to a designated trauma center or died while in emergency medical services care at the incident scene or in transit.
Exposures: The primary exposures of interest were geographic characteristics of injury incident locations, including distance to the nearest trauma center, designation level and ownership status of the nearest trauma center, and land use, as well as community-level characteristics such as median age and per capita income.
Main outcomes and measures: Odds of death were estimated with multilevel logistic regression, controlling for individual demographic measures and measures of injury and health.
Results: Of the 16 082 patients included in this study, 8716 (52.4%) were white, and 5838 (36.3%) were African American. Most patients were male (10 582; 65.8%) and younger than 65 years (12 383; 77.0%). Odds of death increased by 8.0% for every 5-mile increase in distance to the nearest trauma center (OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01-1.15; P = .03). Compared with privately owned level 1 or 2 centers, odds of death increased by 49.9% when the nearest trauma center was level 3 (OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.06-2.11; P = .02), and by 80.7% when the nearest trauma center was publicly owned (OR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.39-2.34; P < .001). At the zip code tabulation area level, odds of death increased by 16.0% for every 5-year increase in median age (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.03-1.30; P = .02), and decreased by 26.6% when the per capita income was greater than $25 000 (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54-0.99; P = .05).
Conclusions and relevance: Injury scene characteristics are associated with injury mortality. Odds of death are highest for patients injured in communities with higher median age or lower per capita income and at locations farthest from level 1 or 2 trauma centers.