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Am Surg. 2008 Jun;74(6):494-501; discussion 501-2.

Impact of acute care general surgery coverage by trauma surgeons on the trauma patient.

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Department of Surgery, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.


Although acute care general surgery (ACS) coverage by trauma surgeons may help re-invigorate the field of trauma surgery, introducing additional responsibilities to an already overburdened system may negatively impact the trauma patient. Our purpose was to determine the impact on the trauma patient of a progressive integration of ACS coverage into a trauma service. Data from a university, Level I trauma registry was retrospectively reviewed to compare demographics, injury severity, complications, and outcomes over a 6-year period. During this study period, the trauma service treated only trauma patients for 32 months, then added ACS coverage 2 days per week for 32 months, and then expanded to 4 days per week coverage for 9 months. Trauma patients admitted during periods of ACS coverage were not different with respect to gender, mechanism of injury, Revised Trauma Score, or Glasgow Coma Score; however, they were slightly older and had slightly higher injury severity scores. As ACS coverage progressively increased, trauma patients had an increase in ventilator days (P < 0.0001), intensive care unit length of stay (P < 0.0001), and hospital length of stay (P < 0.0001). Occurrences of neurologic, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and infectious complications were similar during all three time periods, whereas cardiac and renal complications progressively increased after ACS coverage was added. Mortality remained unchanged after ACS integration.

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