Major trauma patients are often perceived as being young males injured by high energy transfer mechanisms. The aim of this study was to describe the demographics of major trauma patients who were transported to hospital by ambulance.
This is a retrospective cohort study of adult major trauma (injury severity score >15) patients transported to hospital by St John Western Australia emergency ambulance in metropolitan Perth, between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2016. To describe the cohort, median and interquartile range (IQR) were used for continuous variables and counts and percentages for categorical variables. Differences between mechanism of injury groups were assessed using the Kruskal-Wallis test. Trauma deaths were defined as early (declared deceased within 24 hours) or late (declared deceased within 30 days).
A total of 1625 patients were included. The median age was 51 years (IQR 30-75) and 1158 (71%) were male. Falls from standing were the most common mechanism of injury (n=460, 28%) followed by motor vehicle crashes (n=259, 16%). Falls from standing were responsible for the majority of early (n=45/175, 26%) and late deaths (n=69/158, 44%). A large number of early deaths also resulted from motorbike crashes (n=32/175, 18%) with a median age of 34 years (IQR 21-46, p<0.001).
Major trauma is not only a disease of the young. More than half of the cohort was more than 51 years of age and the most common cause was a fall from standing. Pre-hospital care must evolve to address the needs of a changing trauma patient demographic.
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