Penetrating injuries of the thorax and abdomen: Type of medical-care institution and case fatality

Denise G Simons-Morton, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to determine, for penetrating injuries (gunshot, stab) of the chest/abdomen, the impact on fatality of treatment in trauma centers and shock trauma units compared with general hospitals. Medical records of all cases of penetrating injury limited to chest/abdomen and admitted to and discharged from 7 study facilities in Baltimore city 1979-1980 (n = 581) were studied: 4 general hospitals (n = 241), 2 area-wide trauma centers (n = 298), and a shock trauma unit (n = 42). Emergency center and transferred cases were not studied. Anatomical injury severity, measured by modified Injury Severity Score (mISS), was a significant prognostic factor for death, as were cardiovascular shock (SBP $\le$ 70), injury type (gunshot vs stab), and ambulance/helicopter (vs other) transport. All deaths occurred in cases with two or more prognostic factors. Unadjusted relative risks of death compared with general hospitals were 4.3 (95% confidence interval = 2.2, 8.4) for shock trauma and 0.8 (0.4, 1.7) for trauma centers. Controlling for prognostic factors by logistic regression resulted in these relative risks: shock trauma 4.0 (0.7, 22.2), and trauma centers 0.8 (0.2, 3.2). Factors significantly associated with increased risk had the following relative risks by multiple logistic regression: SBP $\le$ 70 (RR = 40.7 (11.0, 148.7)), highest mISS (42 (7.7, 227)), gunshot (8.4 (2.1, 32.6)), and ambulance/helicopter transport (17.2 (1.3, 228.1)). Controlling for age, race, and gender did not alter results significantly. Actual deaths compared with deaths predicted from a multivariable model of general-hospital cases showed 3.7 more than predicted deaths in shock trauma (SMR = 1.6 (0.8, 2.9)) and 0.7 more than predicted deaths in area-wide trauma centers (SMR = 1.05 (0.6, 1.7)). Selection bias due to exclusion of transfers and emergency center cases, and residual confounding due to insufficient injury information, may account for persistence of adjusted high case fatality in shock trauma. Studying all cases prospectively, including emergency center and transferred cases, is needed.

Subject Area

Public health|Surgery|Health care

Recommended Citation

Simons-Morton, Denise G, "Penetrating injuries of the thorax and abdomen: Type of medical-care institution and case fatality" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9219868.