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Stanford study examines cost-effectiveness of helicopter transport of trauma victims
Date:4/25/2013

he mortality rate of these patients by a modest 1.6 percent compared with ground transport to meet this threshold, the study says. Or it needs to improve long-term disability outcomes, the study says.

"If future studies find helicopter transport leads to improved long-term quality of life and disability outcomes, then helicopter transport would be considered cost-effective, even if no additional lives were saved," Delgado said. "Only a handful of studies have examined outcomes other than death, without definitive results."

For severely injured patients, helicopter evacuation to a trauma center is preferable if it is faster than ground transport. However, helicopter transport is more expensive and poses rare, but often fatal, safety risks - specifically, the risk of crashing. Plus, it is often difficult for emergency responders to discern which patients would actually benefit from being flown in a helicopter rather than driven in an ambulance to a high-level trauma center. Until this study, the survival benefit needed to offset these potential drawbacks hasn't been clear.

"More accurately determining which patients have serious injuries and need to be flown is the most promising way to ensure you are getting a good value by using helicopter transport," Delgado said. "To do this, we should promote diligent use of the Centers for Disease Control's field triage guidelines among EMS responders. This would help ensure that injured victims who are transported by helicopter to a trauma center actually require trauma care. Secondly, we need to figure out whether the practice of autolaunching helicopters based on a 911 call makes sense. If the benefit of the faster response time outweighs the expenditure of resources on those patients who may not actually need helicopter transport, then autolaunching makes sense. If not, the practice should be reconsidered."

There is mixed evidence in the literature about the degree to which helicopter tran
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Contact: Sara Wykes
swykes@stanfordmed.org
650-721-6263
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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