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Medical Practice

Retrospective study of 1000 deaths from injury in England and Wales

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 07 May 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1305
  1. I D Anderson,
  2. M Woodford,
  3. F T de Dombal,
  4. Miles Irving


    One thousand consecutive deaths from injury in 11 coroner's districts in England and Wales were reviewed by four independent assessors, who studied necropsy reports to identify deaths in hospital that might have been preventable. Of 514 patients admitted to hospital alive, 102 deaths (20%) were judged by all four assessors to have been potentially preventable. When those cases in which three out of four assessors considered that the death was preventable were added the total rose to 170 (33%). Nearly two thirds of all non-central nervous system deaths were judged to have been preventable. The median age of the 170 patients whose deaths were preventable was 41, and the mean Injury Severity Score was 29. Further analysis suggested that the preventable deaths were principally the result of failure to stop bleeding and prevent hypoxia and the absence of, or delay in, surgical treatment.

    The results closely parallel those from similar studies from the United States and suggest that there are serious deficiencies in the services for managing severe injury in England and Wales. Debate is needed now on how to correct these deficiencies. In particular, the place of trauma centres must be considered.

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