Identifying temporal patterns in trauma admissions: Informing resource allocation

David P. Stonko, Bradley M. Dennis, Rachael A. Callcut, Richard D. Betzold, Michael C. Smith, Andrew J. Medvecz, Oscar D. Guillamondegui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Increased knowledge of the temporal patterns in the distribution of trauma admissions could be beneficial to staffing and resource allocation efforts. However, little work has been done to understand how this distribution varies based on patient acuity, trauma mechanism or need for intervention. We hypothesize that temporal patterns exist in the distribution of trauma admissions, and that deep patterns exist when traumas are analyzed by their type and severity. Study design We conducted a cross-sectional observational study of adult patient flow at a level one trauma center over three years, 7/1/2013–6/30/2016. Primary thermal injuries were excluded. Frequency analysis was performed for patients grouped by ED disposition and mechanism against timing of admission; in subgroup analysis additional exclusion criteria were imposed. Results 10,684 trauma contacts were analyzed. Trauma contacts were more frequent on Saturdays and Sundays than on weekdays (p<0.001). Peak arrival time was centered around evening shift change (6-7pm), but differed based on ED disposition: OR and ICU or Step-Down admissions (p = 0.0007), OR and floor admissions (p<0.0001), and ICU or Step-Down and floor admissions (p<0.0001). Step-Down and ICU arrival times (p = 0.42) were not different. Penetrating injuries peaked later than blunt (p<0.0001). Trauma varies throughout the year; we establish a high incidence trauma season (April to late October). Different mechanisms have varying dependence upon season; Motorcycle crashes (MCCs) have the greatest dependence. Conclusion We identify new patterns in the temporal and seasonal variation of trauma and of specific mechanisms of injury, including the novel findings that 1) penetrating trauma tends to present at later times than blunt, and 2) critically ill patients requiring an OR tend to present later than those who are less acute and require an ICU or Step-Down unit. These patients present later than those who are admitted to the floor. Penetrating trauma patients arriving later than blunt may be the underlying reason why operative patients arrive later than other patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0207766
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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