, Volume 36, Issue 9, pp 2108-2118
Date: 17 May 2012

Trauma Care and Case Fatality during a Period of Frequent, Violent Terror Attacks and Thereafter

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Abstract

Background

From September 1999 through January 2004 during the second Intifada (al-Aqsa), there were frequent terror attacks in Jerusalem. We assessed the effects on case fatality of introducing a specialized, intensified approach to trauma care at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Hospital Shock Trauma Unit (HHSTU) and other level I Israeli trauma units. This approach included close senior supervision of prehospital triage, transport, and all surgical procedures and longer hospital stays despite high patient-staff ratios and low hospital budgets. Care for lower income patients also was subsidized.

Methods

We tracked case fatality rates (CFRs) initially during a period of terror attacks (1999–2003) in 8,127 patients (190 deaths) at HHSTU in subgroups categorized by age, injury circumstances, and injury severity scores (ISSs). Our comparisons were four other Israeli level I trauma centers (n = 2,000 patients), and 51 level I U.S. trauma centers (n = 265,902 patients; 15,237 deaths). Detailed HHSTU follow-up continued to 2010.

Results

Five-year HHSTU CFR (2.62 %) was less than half that in 51 U.S. centers (5.73 %). CFR progressively decreased; in contrast to a rising trend in the US for all age groups, injury types, and ISS groupings, including gunshot wounds (GSW). Patients with ISS > 25 accounted for 170 (89 %) of the 190 deaths in HHSTU. Forty-one lives were saved notionally based on U.S. CFRs within this group. However, far more lives were saved from reductions in low CFRs in large numbers of patients with ISS < 25. CFRs in HHSTU and other Israeli trauma units decreased more through the decade to 1.9 % up to 2010.

Conclusions

Sustained reductions in trauma unit CFRs followed introduction of a specialized, intensified approach to trauma care.