The general surgery model: A more appealing and sustainable alternative for the care of trauma patients

Academic Article


  • The contemporary model of trauma care where dedicated trauma/critical care surgeons exclusively manage trauma patients has become progressively unsustainable. Little objective data, however, is available documenting that a better model exists. From September 2002 through August 2003, the trauma model at a 735-bed level I trauma teaching hospital was changed from the contemporary model to a new one where selected general surgeons with Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) certification covered in-house trauma and emergency surgery call on a rotational basis. As well, each pursued elective practices, admitting all inpatients (trauma, emergent, elective) to a single teaching service (formerly the trauma service). Critical care was managed by a separate group of intensivists. The purpose of this study was to objectively compare the two models. Quantitative, financial, and qualitative data were derived from August 2001 to January 2002 (trauma/critical care model) and compared to August 2003 to January 2004 (general surgery model). During the two periods (trauma/critical care vs general surgery), the mean Revised Trauma Score (7.1 vs 7.2; P = 0.029), the mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) (10.9 vs 10.8; P = 0.84), and the percentage of penetrating trauma (12.5% vs 13.2%; P = 0.79) were similar. Differences (trauma/ critical care vs general surgery, % increase/P value) included average daily census (24 vs 54, 225%), cases/attending (262 vs 543, 207%), cases/resident (54 vs 262, 485%), charges/attending ($353,811 vs $471,725, 133%), collections/attending ($106,143 vs $165,103, 156%), number of trauma patients (643 vs 748, 116%), trauma mortality (7.3% vs 4.0%; P = 0.007), trauma mortality with ISS >15 (21.7% vs 12.0%; P = 0.035), trauma complications (33.1% vs 17%; P < 0.001), and ICU morbidity (66.8% vs 43.9%; P < .001). The new general surgery model produced superior financial results and better quantitative surgical experience while exceeding trauma and ICU quality outcomes compared to the former trauma/critical care model. These data objectively support a model such as ours-one that is financially sustainable and more professionally attractive.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • American Surgeon  Journal
  • Author List

  • Roettger RH; Taylor SM; Youkey JR; Blackhurst DW; Rue LW; Ochsner MG
  • Start Page

  • 633
  • End Page

  • 639
  • Volume

  • 71
  • Issue

  • 8