Survival after trauma has increased in recent years with improvements in emergency medical services coupled with the rapid transportation of trauma patients to centers capable of providing the most advanced care. What has not been clear until this study, is the effectiveness of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), a limited and expensive resource, compared to its alternative, ground emergency medical services (GEMS).
“We looked at the sickest patients with the most severe injuries and applied sophisticated statistical analyses to the largest aggregation of trauma data in the world,” says the study’s principal investigator, Samuel M. Galvagno Jr., D.O., Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Divisions of Trauma Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We were careful at every step to balance all the potential other factors that could explain any benefit of the helicopter. After all that, the survival advantage of helicopters remained,” says Galvagno.
For this study, Dr. Galvagno developed the most rigorous comparison of helicopter and ground transport to date. He and his team tracked patients meeting certain criteria who were listed in the 2007-2009 version of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). The NTDB contains more than 1.8 million patient records from more than 900 centers in the United States.
Dr. Galvagno and his team conclude that the helicopter is associated with a 16 percent increased rate of survival for the 156,511 patients transported to Level I trauma centers. That percentage means 65 patients must be transported to save one life. The 64,964 patients who went by chopper to Level II trauma centers had a 15 percent survival advantage, meaning 69 must be transported to save one life.
This study was performed without any commercial funding or extramural sponsorship. Dr. Galvagno was funded, in part, by an institutional training grant when this study was initiated as part of his Ph.D. program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Full Story: http://www.ems1.com/air-medical-transport/articles/1272889-Study-Helicopter-beats-ambulance-for-trauma-patients-8206/