Background: Trauma centers have an array of services available around the clock that help reduce mortality in injured patients. Having such services available can benefit patients other than those who are injured. We set out to determine whether patients hospitalized with ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms experience lower morbidity and mortality at regional trauma centers than at other acute care hospitals. Study design: We conducted a retrospective cohort study with the exposure being care at a trauma center and outcomes either mortality or organ failure. We evaluated all patients 40 to 84 years of age with a diagnosis of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm who underwent operation during 2001 in 20 US states with organized systems of trauma care. We determined the relative risk of either death or organ failure at regional trauma centers compared with nondesignated centers. Results: Of 2,450 patients hospitalized for ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, 867 (35%) hospitalizations occurred at regional trauma centers. At trauma centers, 41.4% of patients died before hospital discharge, compared with 45.2% of patients at nondesignated hospitals (odds ratio [OR], 0.85; 95% CI, 0.71-1.02). After adjusting for payor, hospital beds, annual hospital admissions, annual inpatient operations, affiliation with a vascular surgery fellowship, and comorbid illnesses, the likelihood of death or organ failure was lower at trauma centers (OR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.55-0.93). Conclusions: Care at regional trauma centers after operative repair of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm is associated with improved outcomes. We postulate that these benefits reflect the ability of both vascular and general surgeons to immediately mobilize resources for care of the patient requiring urgent operative intervention. The beneficial effects of trauma center designation might extend beyond caring for the critically injured.
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