More adults treated at hospitals for trauma — from car accidents to falls — are surviving those injuries than they did a decade ago, according to a study released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But results from the large study of trauma patients' records suggest that health researchers need to explore what accounts for a higher risk of dying after a patient leaves the hospital.
Researchers analyzed records from 1995 through 2008 of nearly 125,000 residents of Washington state age 18 and older who had been hospitalized for traumatic injuries, and then discharged home, to rehab or to a nursing home. The researchers found that within three years of leaving the hospital 16 percent of trauma patients died, a figure that is 10 percentage points higher than the death rate of the population. The risk was even higher for those sent to a nursing home, where one in three trauma patients died within three years. Researchers also found that falls caused more deaths than all other types of trauma, including car accidents.