Purpose: The mortality rate for pediatric trauma patients cared for in adult trauma centers has been shown, by means of TRISS methodology, not to differ significantly from that of the Major Trauma Outcome Study (MTOS). The question remains, however, whether the outcome of injured children is better in a designated pediatric trauma center (DPTC). The authors' hypothesis is that outcome is better at a DPTC.
Methods: The records of 1,797 children (0 to 15 years of age) admitted to a DPTC between 1987 and 1993 were reviewed. TRISS methodology was used to calculate probability of survival for outcome comparison with the MTOS. The data also was compared with outcome in relation to the admitting Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) reported in the National Pediatric Trauma Registry (NPTR).
Results: The outcome of all children at this DPTC had a Z score of +1.4199 (P > .1). The Z score of children admitted because of penetrating trauma (PT, n = 460) did not differ significantly from that of the MTOS. However, the children admitted because of blunt trauma (BT, n = 1,337) had a Z score of +3.3501 (M score = .90), which is significantly better than that of the MTOS (P < .001). The BT population with an ISS of > or = 9 (n = 149) had a Z score of +2.8686 (P < .005) (M = .95). By GCS comparison, the BT group had a outcome similar to that reported in the NPTR. Head injury was the cause of death for 26 (84%) of the 31 PT deaths and 20 (83%) of the 24 BT deaths (three of the remaining four had associated severe head injury). Only 1 of 24 (4%) BT liver injuries and 5 (21%) of 24 BT splenic injuries required surgical intervention. This low incidence of liver and splenic surgical invention is similar to that reported by other DPTCs, but for children treated at adult centers the rates are 37% to 58% and 43% to 53% for liver & splenic surgical intervention, respectively.
Conclusion: Children with BT have a significantly better outcome at a DPTC; the outcome for children with PT does not differ. Successful nonoperative treatment of blunt abdominal injuries is more likely to occur at a DPTC than at adult trauma centers "with pediatric committment." Thus, children with blunt injuries should be taken to a DPTC, when available.