Major Trauma and the Elder West Virginian: A Six Year Review at a Level I Trauma Center

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Background—Trauma was the seventh leading cause of death for persons 65 and older in West Virginia (WV) in 2010. In 2007, fatality rates for both accidental falls and motor vehicle crashes were higher in West Virginia than the nation as a whole. US Census Data from 2010 showed WV to have one of the oldest median ages in the nation (surpassed by Maine and Vermont) and currently 16% of the population of WV is over 65 years of age. Methods—This is a retrospective observational study of data extracted from the John Michael Moore Trauma Center (JMMTC) trauma registry for the time period of January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2014. Results—There were 3,895 patients, aged 65 years or older, treated at the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center in Morgantown, WV during the study time period. Accidents accounted for 98.6% of the injuries. The elderly were most commonly injured in their place of residence (59.8%). The top two mechanisms of injury were falls (75.2%) and motor vehicular crashes (13.9%). Frequently, disposition from the Emergency Department was to a higher level of care: Intensive Care Unit (32.3%) and Step-down Unit (21.2%). The most common serious injuries were intracranial hemorrhage (40.0%), lower extremity fractures (38.1%), and spine fracture (26.0%). The average hospital stay was 5.6 days and the average ICU stay was 3.2 days. Hospital discharge dispositions frequently resulted in care out of the home; skilled nursing facility (22.0%), rehabilitation facility (15.5%), morgue/funeral home (6.6%), and long-term residential care facility (5.7%). The most common pre-existing medical conditions were hypertension (71.9%), diabetes mellitus (29.3%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (19.5%), and dementia (18.8%). Conclusion—Elder West Virginians most frequently are injured in falls and motor vehicular crashes. Pre-existing medical conditions are very common. Trauma in the elderly creates a significant burden on the patient, their families, and on the health care system in West Virginia. Injury prevention interventions have the potential to diminish the impact of trauma on elder West Virginians.