Which hospital-acquired conditions matter the most in trauma? An evidence-based approach for prioritizing trauma program improvement

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2022 Oct 1;93(4):446-452. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003645. Epub 2022 Apr 8.


Background: Prevention of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) is a focus of trauma center quality improvement. The relative contributions of various HACs to postinjury hospital outcomes are unclear. We sought to quantify and compare the impacts of six HACs on early clinical outcomes and resource utilization in hospitalized trauma patients.

Methods: Adult patients from the 2013 to 2016 American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program Participant Use Data Files who required 5 days or longer of hospitalization and had an Injury Severity Score of 9 or greater were included. Multiple imputation with chained equations was used for observations with missing data. The frequencies of six HACs and five adverse outcomes were determined. Multivariable Poisson regression with log link and robust error variance was used to produce relative risk estimates, adjusting for patient-, hospital-, and injury-related factors. Risk-adjusted population attributable fractions estimates were derived for each HAC-outcome pair, with the adjusted population attributable fraction estimate for a given HAC-outcome pair representing the estimated percentage decrease in adverse outcome that would be expected if exposure to the HAC had been prevented.

Results: A total of 529,856 patients requiring 5 days or longer of hospitalization were included. The incidences of HACs were as follows: pneumonia, 5.2%; urinary tract infection, 3.4%; venous thromboembolism, 3.3%; surgical site infection, 1.3%; pressure ulcer, 1.3%; and central line-associated blood stream infection, 0.2%. Pneumonia demonstrated the strongest association with in-hospital outcomes and resource utilization. Prevention of pneumonia in our cohort would have resulted in estimated reductions of the following: 22.1% for end organ dysfunction, 7.8% for mortality, 8.7% for prolonged hospitalization, 7.1% for prolonged intensive care unit stay, and 6.8% for need for mechanical ventilation. The impact of other HACs was comparatively small.

Conclusion: We describe a method for comparing the contributions of HACs to outcomes of hospitalized trauma patients. Our findings suggest that trauma program improvement efforts should prioritize pneumonia prevention.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic/Care Management; Level IV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / epidemiology
  • Iatrogenic Disease / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia* / etiology
  • Pneumonia* / prevention & control
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism* / etiology