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J Trauma. 1998 Feb;44(2):266-71; discussion 271-2.

Impact of trauma attending surgeon case volume on outcome: is more better?

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Department of Surgery, University of Louisville School of Medicine, and the Trauma Institute in Surgery, University of Louisville Hospital, Kentucky 40292, USA.



To examine the relationship between annual trauma volume per surgeon and years of attending experience with outcome in a Level I trauma center with a large panel of trauma attending surgeons.


The outcomes of trauma patients were examined in 1995 and 1996 in relationship to surgeon annual trauma volume and years of experience. Outcome variables studied included overall mortality, mortality stratified by Trauma and Injury Severity Score, mortality in patients with an Injury Severity Score greater than 15, and preventable or possibly preventable deaths. Morbidity outcomes examined were overall complication rate and length of stay per attending surgeon. Additionally, five difficult problems were evaluated for critical management decisions by the attending surgeons, and these outcomes were correlated to annual volume and experience.


There was no difference in outcome in either morbidity or mortality that correlated with annual volume of patients treated or years of experience. Critical management errors occurred sporadically and were not related to volume or experience.


Outcome after trauma seemed to be related to severity of injury rather than annual volume of cases per surgeon. Although our results may not be applicable to other institutions, they should urge caution in adopting and promulgating volume requirements for individual attending surgeons in trauma centers.

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