Complications in low-risk older adult trauma patients: A case-control study

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2019 May;86(5):858-863. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002204.


Background: Although some geriatric trauma patients may be at low risk of complications, poor outcomes are pronounced if complications do occur. Prevention in this group decreases the risk of excess morbidity and mortality.

Methods: We performed a case-control study of trauma patients 65 years or older treated from January 2015 to August 2016 at a Level I trauma center with a Trauma Quality Improvement Program-predicted probability of complication of less than 20%. Cases had one of the following complications: unplanned admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), unplanned intubation, pneumonia, or unplanned return to the operating room. Two age-matched controls were randomly selected for each case. We collected information on comorbidities, home medications, and early medical care and calculated odds ratios using multivariable conditional logistic regression.

Results: Ninety-four patients experienced unplanned admission to ICU (n = 51), unplanned intubation (n = 14), pneumonia (n = 21), and unplanned return to the operating room (n = 8). The 188 controls were more frequently intubated and had higher median ISS but were otherwise similar to cases. The adjusted odds of complication were higher for patients on a home β-blocker (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-4.0) and home anticoagulation (aOR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.2-4.1). Patients with diabetes (aOR 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1-3.7) and dementia (aOR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.0-4.3) also had higher odds of complication. The adjusted odds of complication for patients receiving geriatrics consultation was 0.4 (95% CI, 0.2-1.0; p = 0.05). Pain service consultation and indwelling pain catheter placement may be protective, but CIs included 1. There was no association between opiates, benzodiazepines, fluid administration, or blood products in the first 24 hours and odds of complication.

Conclusions: Geriatrics consultation was associated with lower odds of unplanned admission to the ICU, unplanned intubation, pneumonia, and unplanned return to the operating room in low-risk older adult trauma patients. Pathways that support expanding comanagement strategies with geriatricians are needed.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic/Care management, Level IV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery