Early and prehospital trauma deaths: Who might benefit from advanced resuscitative care?

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND Recent civilian and military data from the United States and the United Kingdom suggest that further reductions in mortality will require prehospital or preoperating room hemorrhage control and blood product resuscitation. The aims of this study were to examine the potential preventability of prehospital and early in-hospital fatalities, and to consider the geographical location of such incidents, to contextualize how the use of advanced resuscitative techniques could be operationalized. METHODS Retrospective analysis of prehospital and early in-hospital trauma deaths from January to December 2017. Data were obtained from the Coroner/ME's Office. Each death was reviewed by a panel of two trauma surgeons and a forensic pathologist. Anatomical and physiological survivabilities were evaluated separately, and then combined, leading to a holistic assessment of preventability. Incident locations were mapped and analyzed using ArcGIS. RESULTS Three hundred sixteen trauma deaths were identified. Two hundred thirty-one (73%) were deemed anatomically not survivable; 29 (9%) anatomically survivable, but only with hospital care; 43 (14%) anatomically survivable with advanced prehospital care; and 13 (4%) anatomically survivable with basic prehospital care. Physiologically, 114 (36%) of the patients had been dead for some time when found; 137 (43%) had no cardiorespiratory effort on arrival of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at the scene; 24 (8%) had cardiorespiratory effort at the scene, but not on arrival at the emergency department; and 41 (13%) had cardiorespiratory effort on arrival at the emergency department, but died shortly after. Combining the assessments, 10 (3%) deaths were deemed probably not preventable, 38 (12%) possibly preventable, and the remaining 278 (85%) not preventable. CONCLUSION Twelve percent of trauma deaths were potentially preventable and might be amenable to advanced resuscitative interventions. Operationalizing this type of care will be challenging and will require either prehospital doctors, or very highly trained paramedics, nurses, or physician assistants. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Epidemiological, level III.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Carroll SL; Dye DW; Smedley WA; Stephens SW; Reiff DA; Kerby JD; Holcomb JB; Jansen JO
  • Start Page

  • 776
  • End Page

  • 782
  • Volume

  • 88
  • Issue

  • 6