Background: In recent years, many trauma centers have been closing or scaling down their operations because of financial losses and lack of commitment by the relevant authorities.
Objective: To investigate the effect of commitment to trauma and the establishment of a dedicated trauma program on injury outcome.
Design: In 1992, a well-funded dedicated trauma program was implemented at the Los Angeles County--University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles. We analyzed the outcome in severely injured patients (Injury Severity Score [ISS] > 15) before and after implementation of the program (1991 and 1993).
Setting: Large, urban, level 1 trauma center.
Patients: Patients with trauma and an ISS higher than 15.
Results: There were 737 patients with an ISS higher than 15 in 1991 and 812 patients with an ISS higher than 15 in 1993. The overall mortality rate was 30% in 1991 and 24.5% in 1993 (P = .018), which is a reduction by 18.3%. In patients with blunt trauma and an ISS higher than 15, mortality was reduced by 33% (mortality rate of 31.1% in 1991 vs 20.8% in 1993) (P < .002). Mortality in patients with penetrating trauma and an ISS higher than 30 was reduced by 42.7% (mortality rate of 59.3% in 1991 vs 34% in 1993) (P = .019). There was also a trend toward lower permanent disabilities among survivors with an ISS higher than 15 (14.7% in 1991 vs 11.3% in 1993).
Conclusion: Commitment of financial and human resources for the establishment of a dedicated trauma program is a sound investment in terms of improved survival and fewer permanent disabilities in critically injured patients.