Direct transport versus inter hospital transfer of severely injured trauma patients

Stefan Mans, Eline Reinders Folmer, M.A. C. de Jongh, K.W. W. Lansink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies have suggested that severely injured patients should be transported directly to a trauma centre bypassing the nearest hospital. However, the evidence remains inconclusive. The purpose of this study was to examine the benefits in terms of mortality of direct transport to a trauma centre versus primary treatment in a level II or III centre followed by inter hospital transfer to a trauma centre for severely injured patients without Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
Patients and methods
We used the regional trauma registry and included all patients with an Injury Severity Score (ISS) >15 and an Abbreviated Injury Score <4 for head injury. We adjusted for survival bias by including “potential transfers”: patients who died at the nearest hospitals before transportation to a trauma centre.
A total of 439 patients was included. The majority of patients (349/439, 79%) was transported directly to the level I trauma centre (direct group). The transferred group was formed by the remaining 90 patients, of whom 81 were transferred to the level I trauma centre after initial stabilisation elsewhere and 9 patients died in the emergency room before transfer to a level 1 trauma centre could occur. There were no significant differences in baseline and injury characteristics between the groups. Overall, 60 patients died in-hospital including 41 of the 349 patients (12%) in the direct group and 19 of the 90 patients (21%) in the transferred group. Nine of the 19 deaths in the transferred group were ascribed to potential transfers. After adjusting for prehospital Revised Trauma Score (RTS) and ISS, the odds ratio of death was 2.40 (95%CI: 1.07–5.40) for patients in the transfer group. When potential transfer patients were excluded from the analysis, the adjusted odds ratio of death was 1.14 (95%CI: 0.43–3.01).
After adjusting for survivor bias by including potential transfers, the results of this study suggest a lower risk of death for patients who are directly transported to a level I trauma centre than for patients who receive primary treatment in a level II or III centre and are transferred to a trauma centre. However, this finding was only significant when adjusting for survival bias and therefore we conclude that it is still uncertain if there is a lower risk of death for patients who are transported directly to a level I trauma centre.Keywords: Trauma centre, Triage, Mortality, Trauma, Severely injured patients,Pre-hospital transport, Pre-hospital care, Trauma systems, Multi trauma, Inter hospital transfer
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-31
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Trauma centre
  • Triage
  • Mortality
  • Trauma
  • Severely injured patients
  • Pre-hospital transport
  • Pre-hospital care
  • Trauma systems
  • Multi trauma
  • Inter hospital transfer


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