Background: Implementation of Oregon's trauma system was associated with a reduction in the risk of death for hospitalized injured patients. An alternative explanation for improved outcome, however, is favorable concurrent temporal trends, e.g., new technologies and treatments.
Patients and methods: To control for temporal trends, seriously injured hospitalized patients in Oregon and Washington were compared before either state had a trauma system (1985-1988) and when only the Oregon trauma system had been implemented (1990-1993). The study group consisted of hospitalized injured patients aged 16 to 79 years with one or more index injuries in six body regions, i.e., head, chest, spleen/liver, femur or pelvis fracture, and burns. Hospital discharge claims data were analyzed, converting International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, discharge diagnosis codes to Abbreviated Injury Scale scores and Injury Severity Scores using a conversion algorithm. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to estimate the differential risk-adjusted odds of death in Oregon compared with Washington after adjustment for demographics, injury type, and injury severity.
Results: Findings indicated no difference in the risk-adjusted odds of death between Oregon and Washington while both states functioned under an ad hoc trauma system (1985-1988). A significant reduction in the risk of death, however, was noted in Oregon for patients with an index injury and an Injury Severity Score > 15 compared with Washington (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.70-0.91) after trauma system implementation in Oregon (1990-1993). Specifically, reductions in the risk of death were demonstrated for patients with head injuries (adjusted OR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.59-0.82) or liver/spleen injuries (adjusted OR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.54-0.99).
Conclusion: Assuming that the two states demonstrated similar concurrent temporal trends, the findings support the conclusion that improved outcomes among injured patients in Oregon may be attributed to the institution of a statewide trauma system.