Reuters: Rural trauma patients more likely to die before reaching hospital

By Lisa Rapaport

Critically injured patients in rural communities are less likely to be treated at trauma centers than their urban counterparts, a U.S. study suggests.

Rural patients are also roughly twice as likely to die before they ever reach hospitals, researchers report in JAMA Surgery, October 12th.

“Seriously injured patients have better outcomes when treated in major trauma centers and that time matters for certain patients,” said lead study author Dr. Craig Newgard of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

There are several potential reasons why the majority of rural trauma patients with serious injuries didn’t reach hospitals or got care outside of major trauma centers: potential delays alerting emergency medical services, lack of proximity to major trauma centers, long distances for inter-hospital transfers, high threshold for providers in rural hospitals to transfer patients and patient choice to stay within their community or close to family, Newgard said.