Introduction Trauma data collection by UK hospitals is non-mandatory and data regarding trauma mortality are deficient. Our aim was to provide a contemporary description of mortality in a maturing trauma-receiving hospital serving an inner-city population.
Methods A prospectively maintained registry was analysed for demographics; injury mechanism; and time, location and cause of death in trauma patients admitted via the Emergency Department between 2004 and 2008.
Results 4986 trauma team activations yielded 4243 complete cases. The number of patients rose from 784 in 2004–2005 to 1400 in 2007/8. 302 (7%) of these died. All-cause mortality fell from 8.8% to 5.8% (p=0.0075). Blunt trauma (predominantly falls from height and road traffic collisions) accounted for 79% of admissions but 87% of mortality. Penetrating trauma accounted for 21% of admissions and 13% of mortality. Most penetrating injury deaths were from stabbing injury (31/40) as opposed to gunshot wounds (8/40). The biggest cause of death was central nervous system injury (47.7%) followed by haemorrhage (26.2%). Penetrating injury death was associated with marked shock and acidosis compared to blunt mechanisms—mean (SD) admission systolic blood pressure 25.4 (45.7) versus 105.5 (60.5) mm Hg; mean (SD) base excess −21.84 (7.2) versus 9.71 (8.45) mmol, respectively. No classical trimodal distribution of death was observed.
Conclusion Despite current focus on death from knife and gun crime, the vast majority of trauma mortality arises from blunt aetiology. Maturation of our systems of care has been associated with a drop in mortality as institutional trauma volumes increase and clinical infrastructure develops.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.