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13.10.2018 | Original Article

Trauma center need: the American College of Surgeons’ definition in contrast to Swiss highly specialized medicine regulations—a Swiss trauma center perspective

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Thomas Gross, Philipp Braken, Felix Amsler
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00068-018-1027-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



According to the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recommendations, the benchmark for trauma center need (TCN) is an Injury Severity Score (ISS) > 15. In contrast, Swiss highly specialized medicine (HSM) regulations set out TCN for all patients with an ISS > 19 or an Abbreviated Injury Severity (AIS) of the head ≥ 3. This investigation assessed to what extent the modification might be justified.


Consecutive analysis of all significantly injured (new ISS, NISS ≥ 8) adults treated in a trauma center from 2010 to 2016 based on their ISS and AIS head and in respect to utilized resources and outcome.


Of 2171 patients (mean age 57.2 ± 21.6; ISS 15.0 ± 8.5) 40.1% fulfilled the ACS and 52.7% the HSM-definition of TCN. Comparative analysis of specified subgroups representing combinations of the ISS and the AIS head revealed that patients within the HSM but not within the ACS-definition of TCN achieved worse outcomes in mortality or on the Glasgow Outcome Score and had a higher inpatient rehabilitation rate than patients with an ISS < 15 and an AIS head < 3 compared to patients with an ISS > 15. Mortality for patients with an ISS 16–19 and AIS head < 3 (qualifying for the ACS but not the HSM-definition of TCN) was found to be twice as high for patients who were not in the ACS or the HSM group (ISS < 16 & AIS head < 3).


If confirmed by others, both the ACS and the Swiss-recommendations for TCN should be adapted accordingly, provided that the resultant increased workload is feasible for the trauma centers concerned.

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