Correlation of Clinical Findings and Autopsy Results After Fatal Injury from Motor Vehicular-Related Crashes

Shen, Luke Y.; Marcotte, Kendra N.; Helmer, Stephen D.; Dudley, Mary H.; Smith, R. Stephen
March 2006
American Surgeon;Mar2006, Vol. 72 Issue 3, p282
Academic Journal
In the past, autopsy served as the gold standard to document diagnostic accuracy. Although a valuable contributor to medical education, information collected from autopsies is frequently delayed and poorly used. The purpose of this study was to determine the degree of concordance between clinical findings and autopsy results of trauma patients involved in fatal vehicular-related crashes. A 10-year retrospective review of trauma patients involved in fatal vehicular-related crashes who subsequently had an autopsy performed was conducted at an American College of Surgeons-verified Level I trauma center. The clinical record, trauma registry data, and autopsy results were reviewed. Degree of concordance was evaluated using the Goldman Type Errors Criteria. A total of 207 decedents were included (mean age, 41; 63% male; median Glascow Coma Scale score, 3; median Injury Severity Score, 37). The majority (69.6%) of decedents were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Total treatment time was <15 minutes in 29.0 per cent of cases, <6 hours in 59.4 per cent of cases, and <24 hours in 73.9 per cent of cases. Location of death was the emergency department (43.0%), the intensive care unit (49.8%), the operating room (5.4%), and the nursing floor (1.0%). There were no Goldman Class I or IV type errors, (i.e., no major or minor discrepancies, respectively, that may have altered therapy or survival of the patient). Following ATLS-based protocols results in appropriate identification of clinically significant injuries in patients involved in motor vehicular-related crashes. The routine use of autopsy results offers little additional information to a mature American College of Surgeons-verified Level I trauma program.


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