The study published in the April issue of the journal Health Services Research found that mortality risk dropped 10 percent among patients with head injury transferred from rural trauma centers in Oregon and Washington to level I trauma centers in both states.
Researchers from the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine and the Department of Surgery, OHSU School of Medicine, and the Department of Sociology at Portland State University examined data on 542 patients sent from 31 rural trauma centers categorized as levels III, IV or V to 15 level I and II trauma centers between 1991 and 1994. The study population included patients with everything from simple concussions to fatal traumatic brain injury, and mortality was based on death during hospitalization or within 30 days after discharge.
The team "found a small but significant improvement in mortality for head-injured patients transferred to level I centers when compared to those transferred to level II centers," said the study's lead author, K. John McConnell, Ph.D., OHSU assistant professor of emergency medicine and an economist in the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine.
OHSU and Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center, both in Portland, are Oregon's only level I trauma centers. In Washington, Harborview Medical Center, located in Seattle, is the state's sole level I facility. There are six level II trauma centers serving Oregon, including one in Boise, Idaho, and two in southwest Wash., and seven serving Washington, including a hospital in Lewiston, Idaho.
Level I trauma centers provide comprehensive trauma care and are required to have trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and all surgical subspecialties, including cardiac surg
Contact: Jonathan Modie
Oregon Health & Science University