A Novel Approach to Assessment of US Pediatric Trauma System Development

JAMA Surg. 2022 Nov 1;157(11):1042-1049. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2022.4303.


Importance: Mature trauma systems are critical in building and maintaining national, state, and local resilience against all-hazard disasters. Currently, pediatric state trauma system plans are not standardized and thus are without concrete measures of potential effectiveness.

Objective: To develop objective measures of pediatric trauma system capability at the state level, hypothesizing significant variation in capabilities between states, and to provide a contemporary report on the status of national pediatric trauma system planning and development.

Design, setting, and participants: A national survey was deployed in 2018 to perform a gap analysis of state pediatric trauma system capabilities. Four officials from each state were asked to complete the survey regarding extensive pediatric-related or specific trauma system parameters. Using these parameters, a panel of 14 individuals representing national stakeholder sectors in pediatric trauma care convened to identify the essential components of the ideal pediatric trauma system using Delphi methodology. Data analysis was conducted from March 16, 2019, to February 23, 2020.

Main outcomes and measures: Based on results from the national survey and consensus panel parameters, each state was given a composite score. The score was validated using US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) fatal injury database.

Results: The national survey had less than 10% missing data. The consensus panel reached agreement on 6 major domains of pediatric trauma systems (disaster, legislation/funding, access to care, injury prevention/recognition, quality improvement, pediatric readiness) and was used to develop the Pediatric Trauma System Assessment Score (PTSAS) based on 100 points. There was substantial variation across states, with state scores ranging from 48.5 to 100. Based on US CDC WONDER data, for every 1-point increase in PTSAS, there was a 0.12 per 100 000 decrease in mortality (95% CI, -0.22 to -0.02; P = .03).

Conclusions and relevance: Results of this cross-sectional study suggest that a more robust pediatric trauma system has a significant association with pediatric injury mortality. This study assessed the national landscape of capability and preparedness to provide pediatric trauma care at the state level. These parameters can tailor the maturation of children's interests within a state trauma system and assist with future state, regional, and national planning.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Consensus
  • Cross-Sectional Studies*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans