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Original article

Vol. 144 No. 1314 (2014)

Is trauma in Switzerland any different? Epidemiology and patterns of injury in major trauma – a 5-year review from a Swiss trauma centre

  • Catherine Heim
  • Francesca Bosisio
  • Audrey Roth
  • Jocelyne Bloch
  • Olivier Borens
  • Roy T Daniel
  • Alban Denys
  • Mauro Oddo
  • Mathieu Pasquier
  • Sabine Schmidt
  • Patrick Schoettker
  • Tobias Zingg
  • Jean-Blaise Wasserfallen
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2014;144:w13958


Switzerland, the country with the highest health expenditure per capita, is lacking data on trauma care and system planning. Recently, 12 trauma centres were designated to be reassessed through a future national trauma registry by 2015. Lausanne University Hospital launched the first Swiss trauma registry in 2008, which contains the largest database on trauma activity nationwide.

METHODS: Prospective analysis of data from consecutively admitted shock room patients from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012. Shock room admission is based on physiology and mechanism of injury, assessed by prehospital physicians. Management follows a surgeon-led multidisciplinary approach. Injuries are coded by Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) certified coders.

RESULTS: Over the 5 years, 1,599 trauma patients were admitted, predominantly males with a median age of 41.4 years and median injury severity score (ISS) of 13. Rate of ISS >15 was 42%. Principal mechanisms of injury were road traffic (40.4%) and falls (34.4%), with 91.5% blunt trauma. Principal patterns were brain (64.4%), chest (59.8%) and extremity/pelvic girdle (52.9%) injuries. Severe (abbreviated injury scale [AIS] score ≥3) orthopaedic injuries, defined as extremity and spine injuries together, accounted for 67.1%. Overall, 29.1% underwent immediate intervention, mainly by orthopaedics (27.3%), neurosurgeons (26.3 %) and visceral surgeons (13.9%); 43.8% underwent a surgical intervention within the first 24 hours and 59.1% during their hospitalisation. In-hospital mortality for patients with ISS >15 was 26.2%.

CONCLUSION: This is the first 5-year report on trauma in Switzerland. Trauma workload was similar to other European countries. Despite high levels of healthcare, mortality exceeds published rates by >50%. Regardless of the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, trauma remains a surgical disease and needs dedicated surgical resources.


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