We investigated the potential link between trauma center American College of Surgeons verification level and institutional volume of penetrating thoracic trauma with outcomes for patients with penetrating thoracic trauma.
Penetrating thoracic injuries were identified in the National Trauma Data Bank from 2013 to 2016. Primary exposures were trauma center American College of Surgeons verification level and annual penetrating trauma caseload by center. Cox models were used to evaluate the association between primary exposures and mortality. Poisson regression was used to evaluate admission and outcome rate differences by trauma center status.
Of 68,727 patients identified, 38% were treated at level I centers, 18% at level II centers, and 44% at other centers. Only 3.1% required major surgery for thoracic injury (3.1% at level I, 2.6% at level II, and 3.2% at other). Overall, annual volume of penetrating thoracic trauma was not associated with mortality. For specific injuries, level I centers had superior outcomes for injuries to the thoracic aorta and vena cava compared with other centers. Level I centers also showed improved outcomes for lung/bronchus injuries compared with level II centers. Level I centers had less sepsis/acute respiratory distress syndrome, but more surgical site infection, venous thromboembolism, and unplanned operation compared with non-level I centers.
There was no identified impact of penetrating thoracic trauma volume or trauma center verification level on overall mortality. However, level I verification did correlate with improved outcomes for some specific injuries. Further study to identify factors that improve outcomes in patients with high-risk penetrating thoracic mechanisms is warranted.

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