A National Comparison of Volume and Acuity for Adult and Pediatric Trauma: A Trauma Quality Improvement Program Cohort Study

Steven W. Thornton*, Harold J. Leraas, Elizabeth Horne, Marcelo Cerullo, Doreen Chang, Emily Greenwald, Suresh Agarwal, Krista L. Haines, Elisabeth T. Tracy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Most injured children receive trauma care outside of a pediatric trauma center. Differences in physiology, dosing, and injury pattern limit extrapolation of adult trauma principles to pediatrics. We compare US trauma center experience with pediatric and adult trauma resuscitation. Materials and Methods: We queried the 2019 Trauma Quality Improvement Program to describe the experience of US trauma centers with pediatric (<15 y) and adult trauma. We quantified blunt, penetrating, burn, and unspecified traumas and compared minor, moderate, severe, and critical traumas (ISS 1-8 Minor, ISS 9-14 Moderate, ISS 15-24 Severe, ISS 25+ Critical). We estimated center-level volumes for adults and children. Institutional identifiers were generated based on unique center specific factors including hospital teaching status, hospital type, verification level, pediatric verification level, state designation, state pediatric designation, and bed size. Results: A total of 755,420 adult and 76,449 pediatric patients were treated for traumatic injuries. There were 21 times as many critical or major injuries in adults compared to children, 17 times more moderate injuries, and 6 times more minor injuries. Children and adults presented with similar rates of blunt trauma, but penetrating injuries were more common in adults and burn injuries were more common in children. Comparing center-level data, adult trauma exceeded pediatric for every severity and mechanism. Conclusions: There is relatively limited exposure to high-acuity pediatric trauma at US centers. Investigation into pediatric trauma resuscitation education and simulation may promote pediatric readiness and lead to improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-639
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Pediatric
  • Resuscitation
  • Simulation
  • TQIP
  • Trauma


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