There have been recent proposals to enhance organization and funding of emergency care in the U.S. because of perceived deficiencies – especially in services for children. Motor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of death and disability for both adults and children in the United States and place a heavy burden on emergency and trauma care. This study uses the Fatality Accident Reporting System (FARS) to examine the length of time between vehicle crash and hospital arrival for crashes involving seriously injured children transported to hospital in 2003. Only about 1/3 (1868) of 5436 crashes had data for hospital arrival time. For those cases that could be evaluated, median transport time was 46 minutes (52 minutes for rural crashes, 35 minutes for those in urban areas). There was substantial delay in a minority of crashes. Delays occurred both between crash and emergency services (EMS) notification and between EMS contact and hospital arrival and were more common in rural crashes. Other research has shown that prolonged transport times are associated with worsened trauma outcomes. Since states vary in the extent and sophistication of their trauma services we sought, but failed to find, correlation between number of trauma centers (Level I and II or all-level) per million population and median arrival time calculated for each U.S. state. Integrated trauma care begins at the site of injury and continues through post-hospital care. Time between injury and hospital admission is one important indicator of trauma system performance.
Keywords: Accidents, Traffic; Emergency Medical Services; Children; Transportation of Patients; Trauma Centers; Injuries