Destination healthcare facility of patients with suspected traumatic brain injury in Scotland: Analysis of pre-hospital data

Academic Article


  • Background: Traumatic brain injury is common. Guidelines from the Brain Trauma Foundation and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network recommend that patients with suspected severe traumatic brain injury should be treated in centres with neurosurgical expertise. Scotland does not have a framework for the delivery of trauma care. The aim of this study was to examine the demographic characteristics of incidents involving patients who have suffered a suspected traumatic brain injury, and to evaluate the level of the destination healthcare facility which patients are currently taken to. Methods: Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected Scottish Ambulance Service data on incidents involving traumatic injury, between Nov 2008 and Oct 2010. Two groups of casualties were analysed: those who had a Glasgow coma scale of less than 14 (GCS < 14), and those who had a Glasgow coma scale of less than 9 (GCS < 9). Results: 126,934 incidents were identified and analysed. 3890 (3.1%) patients had a GCS of less than 14, and 657 (0.5% of total) had a GCS of less than 9. Almost one-third of incidents involving patients with either a GCS < 14 or GCS < 9 occurred in the greater Glasgow health board area. The Lothian health board region had the second-highest number of patients with either a GCS < 14 or GCS < 9. Only 13.8% of patients with a GCS < 14, and 16.7% of those with a GCS < 9, were taken to a hospital with a neurosurgical service. Conclusions: Many patients who may harbour a traumatic brain injury are taken to a facility which may not be equipped or staffed to deal with such injuries. This mismatch needs to be addressed. However, the care of patients with head injuries is only one aspect of trauma care. The UK has long lagged behind North America in terms of the quality of trauma care provided, although the provision of trauma care in England is currently undergoing major changes. Scotland should consider the development of a similar service delivery framework. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sudlow A; McConnell N; Egan G; Jansen JO
  • Start Page

  • 1237
  • End Page

  • 1240
  • Volume

  • 44
  • Issue

  • 9