Use new trauma stats to improve care in your ED

New statistics from the Chicago-based American College of Surgeons’ National Trauma Data Bank report have strong implications for your ED. The report’s findings are based on more than 1.1 million records from 405 trauma centers in 43 states.

The report shows that the vast majority of traumatic injuries are preventable, such as bicycle helmets preventing serious head trauma, seatbelt use preventing significant injury, and safe storage of firearms preventing gun injuries, says Kathleen Loeffler, RN, research nurse at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. "The real challenge in injury prevention is convincing people to use equipment that is of known effectiveness in reducing or eliminating injury," she says.

As an ED nurse, you often meet patients and families after a "near miss" such as a quick trip to the store without a seatbelt or short bike ride without a helmet. "It may sound harsh, but when patients are frightened and vulnerable in our EDs, it’s a perfect opportunity to provide them with information and encouragement to use safety devices," she says.

If you are interested in starting an injury prevention program for your community, look first at your own trauma registry data, recommends Loeffler. "How are your patients getting hurt or killed? Find out your top 10 most common trauma diagnoses, then pick an injury problem that is frequent, severe, and fixable" — such as head injuries from bike crashes and a plan to provide bicycle helmets.

"As ED nurses, we are in a unique position to assess, educate and intervene in the costly, often tragic issue of trauma," says Loeffler. "From knowing types of trauma and injury patterns specific to certain populations, to counseling a distressed teen, to fitting bicycle helmets at a community health fair, there are many ways to participate in the care and prevention of injury. Just do it!"


  • The entire National Trauma Data Bank Report 2004 can be downloaded at no charge on the American College of Surgeons web site ( Under "Divisions and Programs," scroll down to "Trauma Programs" and click on "National Trauma Data Bank." On the right side of the page, click on "National Trauma Data Bank Report 2004"’ in PDF or PowerPoint format.