Hospitalized Traumatic Brain Injury: Low Trauma Center Utilization and High Interfacility Transfers among Older Adults
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Hospitalized Traumatic Brain Injury: Low Trauma Center Utilization and High Interfacility Transfers among Older Adults

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prehosp Emerg Care
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    Guidelines suggest that Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related hospitalizations are best treated at Level I or II trauma centers because of continuous neurosurgical care in these settings. This population-based study examines TBI hospitalization treatment paths by age groups.


    Trauma center utilization and transfers by age groups were captured by examining the total number of TBI hospitalizations from National Inpatient Sample (NIS) and the number of TBI hospitalizations and transfers in the Trauma Data Bank National Sample Population (NTDB-NSP). TBI cases were defined using diagnostic codes.


    Of the 351,555 TBI related hospitalizations in 2012, 47.9% (n = 168,317) were directly treated in a Level I or II trauma center, and an additional 20.3% (n = 71,286) were transferred to a Level I or II trauma center. The portion of the population treated at a trauma center (68.2%) was significantly lower than the portion of the U.S. population who has access to a major trauma center (90%). Further, nearly half of all transfers to a Level I or II trauma center were adults aged 55 and older (p < 0.001) and that 20.2% of pediatric patients arrive by non-ambulatory means.


    Utilization of trauma center resources for hospitalized TBIs may be low considering the established lower mortality rate associated with treatment at Level I or II trauma centers. The higher transfer rate for older adults may suggest rapid decline amid an unrecognized initial need for a trauma center care. A better understanding of hospital destination decision making is needed for patients with TBI.

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