SAN DIEGO, March 29 (UPI) -- The location of a motor vehicle crash makes all the difference in survival because of the access to trauma surgeons, U.S. researchers say.
Study leader David C. Chang of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, said the insufficient availability of surgeons in some areas of the country significantly lowers the quality of patient care and leads to unnecessary loss of lives.
Chang and colleagues examined the relationship between the three-year average of motor vehicle crashes-related deaths and the availability of surgeons across 3,225 counties in the United States.
After adjusting for factors such as population density, urban vs. rural location and socioeconomic status, the study found that there was a significant inverse association between the number of surgeons and the number of road traffic injury-related deaths -- especially in rural areas.
Regions with a larger number of surgeons -- often large urban hospitals -- showed lower mortality rates, suggesting that motor vehicle crash victims may get more timely surgical treatment and an increased odds of survival, Change said.
"The data suggest that better access through trauma systems and an available supply of trauma surgeons are key factors affecting outcomes, and should be a priority for health care reform," study co-author Dr. Raul Coimbra of the University of California, San Diego, Health System and vice-chair of the American College of Surgeons' committee on trauma, said.
The findings are published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons.