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May 1993

The Epidemiology of Traumatic Death: A Population-Based Analysis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington (Dr Shackford); Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco (Drs Mackersie and Davis); and Departments of Community and Family Medicine (Dr Holbrook), Surgery (Division of Trauma) (Ms Hollingsworth-Fridlund and Dr Hoyt), and Pathology (Dr Wolf), School of Medicine, University of California at San Diego.

Arch Surg. 1993;128(5):571-575. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420170107016

• Despite the proliferation of trauma systems, there are no population-based data describing the epidemiology of traumatic death. To provide these data, we reviewed all trauma deaths occurring in San Diego (California) County during 1 year. There were 625 traumatic deaths during the study (27.3 deaths per 100 000 population per year). Motor vehicle trauma was the most common cause of injury leading to death (N=344 [55.2%]; 15.0 annual deaths per 100 000 population). Central nervous system injuries were the most common cause of death (48.5%, or 13.2 deaths per 100 000 population per year). Sepsis was responsible for only 2.5% of the overall mortality. Based on life-table data, traumatic death resulted in an annual loss of 1091 years of life per 100 000 and an annual loss of 492 years of productivity per 100 000. Injury continues to account for an enormous loss of life despite improvements in survival wrought by trauma systems.

(Arch Surg. 1993;128:571-575)

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