Modelling transport time to trauma centres and 30-day mortality in road accidents in Switzerland: an exploratory study

Swiss Med Wkly. 2021 Sep 1;151(35-36). doi: 10.4414/SMW.2021.w30007.


Background: Rapid access to a trauma centre for severely injured road accident victims, conceptualised as the Golden Hour, links access time to definitive treatment within 1 hour of trauma with reduced risks of morbidity and mortality. Access times have not been studied in Switzerland. The aim of this work was to model the transport time by ambulance of seriously injured road traffic accident victims to one of the 12 trauma centres in Switzerland and to investigate whether this time influenced mortality.

Methods: Isochronous travel curves in 10-minute increments were modelled around each of the 12 Swiss trauma centres to assess travel times at the Swiss national level, based on the shortest travel time from the location of a serious road accident to the nearest trauma centre. We used the national database of the Federal Roads Office, which provided the geolocation of these accidents occurring between 2011 and 2017. The association between mortality and transport time to the nearest trauma centre was then analysed.

Results: The current distribution of trauma centres allowed access time within the Golden Hour for accidents occurring on the Swiss plateau, but the time was more prolonged in the Alps or the Jura. An association existed between mortality and prehospital transport time from the site of an accident to the nearest trauma centre. For each additional 10-minute isochrone, an average increase of 0.4% in mortality was observed.

Conclusion: This work showed an adequate distribution of trauma centres in Switzerland and suggests a positive relationship between transport time to the nearest trauma centre and mortality. The numerous confounding factors not systematically collected in publicly available databases limit the robustness of our results. This study confirms the importance of having a national trauma registry to allow quality analyses to guide public health decisions.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Registries
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Trauma Centers*
  • Wounds and Injuries*