Toronto, January 26, 2010-- It's known that people who live or work in rural areas are more likely to suffer and die from serious injuries compared to those in more urban environments. But while time and distance play a role in these higher mortality rates, new research suggests that limited access to early, high-quality trauma care in many smaller Ontario hospitals may be a factor.
Researchers from St. Michael's in Toronto looked at 3,486 trauma-related deaths that occurred in Ontario between 2002 and 2003, which was the most recent data available for analysis. (A traumatic injury is caused by something outside the person's bodyfor example, a leg crushed by machinery or a head injury caused by a fall from a ladder.)
"We wanted to see what happened to these patients after they were injured and also to learn more about the settings in which death was most likely to occur," explains study investigator Dr. Avery B. Nathens, director of trauma services at St. Michael's and Canada Research Chair in Systems of Trauma Care.
The researchers say that interventions designed to improve the skills and resources available in rural emergency departments could reduce mortality rates from serious traumatic injury. "We also need to understand why the transfer process takes so long," Dr. Nathens adds. "If we can reduce this, we can save lives."
The study found that more than half of the deaths occurred before the injured person reached a hospital emergency department (ED). These "pre-hospital" deaths were twice as likely among patients injured in the most rural locations and in those with limited access to timely trauma centre care.
"But even when people survived long enough to reach hospital, we noted a threefold increase in the risk of ED death if the injury occurred in a region with limited access to trauma centre care," says Dr. Nathens, who is also a professor of surgery at the University of Toronto. "This means people were more l
|Contact: Julie Saccone|
St. Michael's Hospital