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Am J Surg. 2001 May;181(5):463-5.

Intentional injury treated in community hospitals.

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Deaconess Medical Center, Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, 104 West Fifth, Suite 350 East, Spokane, WA 99204, USA.



The impact of intentional injury in major metropolitan trauma centers has been established. Nonaccidental injury has become an increasingly important component of trauma care in mid-sized urban areas. To determine the medical and economic impact of personal violence in the Spokane, Washington, community we undertook a 5-year retrospective review.


Trauma registries were used to identify all victims of intentional injury admitted between May 1, 1994, and April 31, 1999. Demographic data, blood alcohol, mechanism, injury severity, hospital course, and outcome were abstracted from the registries. Financial data were obtained from hospital financial offices.


Spokane, Washington, has a population of 200,000 with 400,000 in the metropolitan area. Trauma patients are triaged to hospitals according to Washington Administrative Code guidelines, supervised by central medical control. The two level II and two level III facilities are staffed by private practice surgeons and serve a referral area of 650,000.


Five hundred eighty-one intentional injury patients were admitted. This represented 15% of all significant injuries. Males accounted for 80% of the patients and 84%were Caucasian. The mean patient age was 30 years, only one quarter were listed as employed. Sixteen percent of the injuries were self-inflicted, gunshot was the most common mechanism (39%). Alcohol was involved in one half of the injuries. Sixty-three patients died, 39 died prior to intensive care unit admission. Hospital stay averaged 6.4 days, with a mean hospital charge of $18,000. Hospitals were reimbursed at 67%. Surgeons collected 31% of billed fees. Fewer than one third of patients had any form of private insurance.


Intentional injury is a significant component of trauma care in our community. Patients are seriously injured and the fatality rate is high. Care is expensive and poorly funded.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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