Impact of Airbags on a Level I Trauma Center: Injury Patterns, Infectious Morbidity, and Hospital Costs

This article reports on a study that investigated the impact of airbags on a Level I trauma center. The authors hypothesized that airbag use would be related to decreased injury severity of motor vehicle collision survivors admitted to a Level I trauma center, leading to a subsequent decrease in infectious morbidity and hospital resource use. Using the trauma registry of the Presley Regional Trauma Center (Memphis, Tennessee), motor vehicle collision victims admitted during an 11-year period (n = 19, 767) were identified. Restraint groups were defined as unrestrained (reference group), seatbelt only, airbag only, or airbag and seatbelt. Outcomes measured included injury patterns, prevalence of ventilator-associated pneumonia and bacteremia, hospital length of stay, days in the ICU, and hospital mortality. A total of 14,390 patients (unrestrained, n = 7,881; airbag only, n = 692; seatbelt only, n = 4,909; airbag and seatbelt, n = 908) had restraint data available. Results showed that both airbag and seatbelt use were associated with a substantial reduction in injury to the brain, face, cervical spine, thorax, and abdomen. The largest reduction occurred when these restraints were used in combination. The only injury associated with airbag deployment was extremity fractures. The authors conclude that, compared with unrestrained persons, any restraint use was associated with substantially reduced injury severity, significant infectious morbidity, and resource use. Vast cost savings to the health care system would result from widespread use of seatbelts and airbags.

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  • Authors:
    • Williams, Regan F
    • Fabian, Timothy C
    • Fischer, Peter E
    • Zarzaur, Ben L
    • Magnotti, Louis J
    • Croce, Martin A
  • Publication Date: 2008-5


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01108920
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 19 2008 8:07PM