Background: This study was undertaken to define the factors that affected the final outcome of trauma patients in the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake.
Methods: Medical records of patients admitted to 95 hospitals within or surrounding the affected area during the first 15 days after the quake were reviewed.
Results: There were 2,702 traumatized patients. One-third of the patients were transported to hospitals in the surrounding area and had a mortality rate of 3%. The remainder, who were treated in the affected hospitals, showed a significantly higher mortality rate (8%; p < 0.05). Intensive care was provided for 513 patients, most of whom suffered from crush syndrome or from injuries to vital organs; these patients had a high mortality rate. Patients with other types of injuries had a lower mortality rate.
Conclusion: Crush syndrome and injuries to vital organs were potentially life-threatening. We believe that early transportation of such patients to undamaged hospitals with the ability to provide intensive care would have improved the survival rate.