J Korean Soc Emerg Med.  2001 Dec;12(4):457-466.

Distribution of Time to Death in Trauma Patients: A Review of 11 years' Experience at a Tertiary Care Teaching Hospital

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea. edksh@yumc.yonsei.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, SungAe Hospital, Korea.


BACKGROUND: Traumatic death occupies a high ranking in the annual national report on causes of death and causes a significant burden to society. To reduce traumatic death, an area-wide trauma care system is urgently needed, and basic mortality data will be an essential component in designing such a system. The purpose of this study was to review the experience of trauma death in a hospital to determine the pattern of time to death and the effect of the emergency medical services(EMS) system in traumatic death.
A retrospective analysis of 495 traumatic deaths experienced from 1990 to 2000 was performed. Time to death, mechanism of injury, injury severity, and cause of death were reviewed. The influence of the EMS system before 1995 was compared with its influence after 1995.
The mean age of the 495 patients was 41.1+/-18.9 and the mean injury severity score(ISS) was 37.1+/-17.8. The distribution of time to death showed DOA(including found dead) in 39% of the cases, within 48hr in 38.4%, between the 2nd and 7th days in 9.9%, and later than the 7th day in 12.7%. The majority of early deaths occurred within 4 hr of injury, but a minor increase was noted during the 2nd week. After 1995, the ambulance transportation rate increased significantly without any difference in prehospital interventions.
Our results showed a bimodal distribution of time to death, which reflected geographic, mechanism of injury, and trauma care system differences. We also noted deficiencies in prehospital trauma care in our EMS system. We recommend nationwide trauma registry initiatives to provide basic trauma data and to implement a quality trauma care system.


Trauma death; Modal distribution

MeSH Terms

Cause of Death
Hospitals, Teaching*
Retrospective Studies
Tertiary Healthcare*
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