Quadrimodal distribution of death after trauma suggests that critical injury is a potentially terminal disease

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Critical Care | Epidemiology | Health Services Research | Surgery | Trauma


BACKGROUND: Patterns of death after trauma are changing due to advances in critical care. We examined mortality in critically injured patients who survived index hospitalization.

METHODS: Retrospective analysis of adults admitted to a Level-1 trauma center (1/1/2000-12/31/2010) with critical injury was conducted comparing patient characteristics, injury, and resource utilization between those who died during follow-up and survivors.

RESULTS: Of 1,695 critically injured patients, 1,135 (67.0%) were discharged alive. As of 5/1/2012, 977/1,135 (86.0%) remained alive; 75/158 (47.5%) patients who died during follow-up, died in the first year. Patients who died had longer hospital stays (24 vs. 17 days) and ICU LOS (17 vs. 8 days), were more likely to undergo tracheostomies (36% vs. 16%) and gastrostomies (39% vs. 16%) and to be discharged to rehabilitation (76% vs. 63%) or skilled nursing (13% vs. 5.8%) facilities than survivors. In multivariable models, male sex, older age, and longer ICU LOS predicted mortality. Patients with ICU LOS >16 days had 1.66 odds of 1-year mortality vs. those with shorter ICU stays.

CONCLUSIONS: ICU LOS during index hospitalization is associated with post-discharge mortality. Patients with prolonged ICU stays after surviving critical injury may benefit from detailed discussions about goals of care after discharge.


UMCCTS funding

DOI of Published Version



J Crit Care. 2015 Jun;30(3):656.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2015.01.003. Epub 2015 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of critical care

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed