Length of hospitalization is a good indicator of resource utilization. Older patients are increasingly suffering trauma, and comorbid medical conditions are also increasing. Our objective was to determine the separate and combined effect of these 2 factors on length of hospital stay for trauma patients in a tertiary trauma centre.
All 994 consecutive trauma patients surviving to hospital discharge between Apr. 1, 2000, and Mar. 31, 2001, were identified. Patient characteristics, injury severity and length of hospitalization were obtained from the hospital trauma registry. Each medical record was then reviewed for completeness of information and assessment of comorbid conditions. A multivariate linear regression model was developed to predict logarithmic length of stay from age and presence of a cormorbid condition while adjusting for the Injury Severity Score (ISS).
The mean age of the patients was 49.7 (range from 14-100) years and median ISS was 9 (range from 1-50). At least 1 comorbid condition was present in 321 (32%) patients. Mean length of hospital stay was 15.3 days. The proportion of patients with a comorbid condition increased steadily with age, from 8.7% before the age of 55 years to 92% at 85 or more years of age (p < 0.001). According to the multivariate model, the presence of comorbidity, age and ISS were all independent predictors of hospital stay (p < 0.001). When applied to patients with the mean ISS value of 9, the model showed an increase in length of hospitalization for patients with a comorbid condition over those without; (3.6 v. 13.1 d for patients < 55 and > or = 85 yr respectively). Length of hospital stay increased particularly with neurologic and pulmonary problems.
Comorbidity and age were both independently significant predictors of length of hospitalization over and beyond that which is expected based on the severity of the injuries. With an aging population, this phenomenon should severely affect resource utilization in trauma centres in the near future. Researchers should take account of both age and comorbidity in order to compare trauma populations.
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