Seriously injured patients in rural areas less likely to be treated at major trauma centers

10/12/16  Portland, Ore.

Only 29 percent of patients who live rural areas and require critical interventions following trauma are directly transported to a major trauma center, while nearly 89 percent of patients living in urban areas are.

New research conducted at the OHSU Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine uncovered disparities in timely access to emergency trauma care in rural versus urban communities. The study published online today in JAMA Surgery.

Based on a review of more than 40 emergency medical services agencies across Oregon and Washington, the research team, led by Craig Newgard, M.D., M.P.H., also found:

  • While the overall mortality rate did not differ between rural and urban regions, a larger population of rural deaths occurred shortly after injury. (rural: 90 percent; urban: 64 percent).
  • Rural versus urban EMS providers were similarly able to identify patients requiring early critical care resources, yet only 40 percent of patients in rural areas ultimately reached a major trauma center (versus 89 percent in urban areas).

Additional research is needed to determine the exact causes of these variances; however, the researchers speculated the disparities may result from differences in EMS systems, access to major trauma care, severity of injury and patient preference.

This research was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (#R01CE01837).

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is a nationally prominent research university and Oregon’s only public academic health center. It serves patients throughout the region with a Level 1 trauma center and nationally recognized Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. OHSU operates dental, medical, nursing and pharmacy schools that rank high both in research funding and in meeting the university’s social mission. OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute helped pioneer personalized medicine through a discovery that identified how to shut down cells that enable cancer to grow without harming healthy ones. OHSU Brain Institute scientists are nationally recognized for discoveries that have led to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke. OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute is a global leader in ophthalmic imaging, and in clinical trials related to eye disease.