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BACKGROUND: Centralization of complex healthcare services into specialist high-volume centres is believed to improve outcomes. For injured patients, few studies have evaluated the centralization of major trauma services. The aim of this study was to evaluate how a regional trauma network affected trends in admissions, case mix, and outcomes of injured patients. METHODS: A retrospective before-after study was undertaken of severely injured patients attending four hospitals that became major trauma centres (MTCs) in March 2012. Consecutive patients with major trauma were identified from a national registry and divided into two groups according to injury before or after the launch of a new trauma network. The two cohorts were compared for differences in case mix, demand on hospital resources, and outcomes. RESULTS: Patient volume increased from 442 to 1326 (200 per cent), operations from 349 to 1231 (253 per cent), critical care bed-days from 1100 to 3704 (237 per cent), and total hospital bed-days from 7910 to 22,772 (188 per cent). Patient age increased on MTC designation from 45.0  years before March 2012 to 48.2 years afterwards (P = 0.021), as did the proportion of penetrating injuries (1.8 versus 4.1 per cent; P = 0.025). Injury severity fell as measured by median Injury Severity Score (16 versus 14) and Revised Trauma Score (4.1 versus 7.8). Fewer patients required secondary transfer to a MTC from peripheral hospitals (19.9 versus 16.1 per cent; P = 0.100). There were no significant differences in total duration of hospital stay, critical care requirements or mortality. However, there was a significant increase, from 55.5 to 62.3 per cent (P < 0.001), in the proportion of patients coded as having a 'good recovery' at discharge after institution of the trauma network. CONCLUSION: MTC designation leads to an increased case volume with considerable implications for operating theatre capacity and bed occupancy. Although no mortality benefit was demonstrated within 6 months of establishing this trauma network, early detectable advantages included improved functional outcome at discharge.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/bjs.9498

Type

Journal article

Journal

Br J Surg

Publication Date

07/2014

Volume

101

Pages

959 - 964

Keywords

Adult, Bed Occupancy, Critical Care, Diagnosis-Related Groups, England, Hospitalization, Humans, Injury Severity Score, Middle Aged, Retrospective Studies, Trauma Centers, Wounds and Injuries