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For Major Trauma, Survival Up With Helicopter Transport

Improved survival for patients with major trauma admitted to level I or II trauma centers

TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with major trauma who are admitted to level I or II trauma centers, those who are transported by helicopter have improved survival compared to those transported by ground emergency medical services, according to a study published in the April 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on comparative effectiveness research.

Samuel M. Galvagno Jr., D.O., Ph.D., of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2007 to 2009 versions of the American College of Surgeons National Trauma Data Bank. The study cohort included patients (older than 15 years) with blunt or penetrating injury and an injury severity score higher than 15 that required transport to U.S. level I or II trauma centers by helicopter (61,909 patients) or by ground emergency services (161,566 patients).

The researchers found that patients transported by helicopter had higher Injury Severity Scores, and a greater percent of these patients died (12.6 versus 11 percent of ground services patients). In the propensity score-matched model, helicopter transport was associated with significantly improved odds of survival for patients transported to level I (odds ratio [OR], 1.16; absolute risk reduction [ARR], 1.5 percent) and level II trauma centers (OR, 1.15; ARR, 1.4 percent).

"Among patients with major trauma admitted to level I or level II trauma centers, transport by helicopter compared with ground services was associated with improved survival to hospital discharge after controlling for multiple known confounders," the authors write.

One of the authors disclosed providing expert testimony in medical malpractice cases.

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