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Trauma Activation and Substance Use in an Urban Trauma Center

Derek Titus, Areta Kowal-Vern, John Porter, Marc R. Matthews, Philomene Spadafore, Sydney Vail
Published: 1 January 2021
Surgical Science , Volume 12, pp 53-66; doi:10.4236/ss.2021.123008

Abstract: Background: Alcohol and drug screens in trauma patients are endorsed by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. The objective was to determine the characteristics and frequency of alcohol and poly-drug combinations in patients triaged by Trauma Team Activation (TTA) codes. Methods: A retrospective study of a Level I hospital trauma registry was initiated with 14,972 patients of whom 7028 (47%) were Substance Users (SU). There were 10,369 TTA patients: 5396 (52%) were SU, and 4603 (31%) non-TTA patients, of whom 1632 (35.5%) were SU. Inclusion criteria were: age ≥14 years old, blood alcohol level and Urine Drug Screen (UDS) documentation, Injury Severity Score (ISS), TTA code, hospital charges and Length of Hospitalization (LOS). Statistical analyses were performed with one-way ANOVA, Maximum Likelihood chi squared, and Mann-Whitney U tests. Results: The median ISS was 5 for both groups. TTA patients were younger than non-TTA patients (median 33 years versus 41 years). Mortality was significantly higher for TTA (4.7%) than for non-TTA (0.7%) patients. From 2010-2013 to 2014-2018, all substance users had a significant decrease in alcohol only use (58.0% to 42.0%) with an increase in single drug (42.0% to 58.0%) and poly-drug use (36.9% to 63.1%), p < 0.0001. For all SU patients (TTA and non-TTA), the major single drugs used were opiates (19.9%), cannabinoids (THC) (15.2%), benzodiazepines (7.7%), amphetamines (6.6%), and cocaine (2.5%). The major poly-drugs were: opiates/THC (4.7%), opiates/benzodiazepines (4.6%), THC/amphetamines (3.1%), THC/benzodiazepines (2.2%). Conclusions: By trauma activation code designation, the TTA group had most of the positive alcohol and drug screens in this study. Since the change in mandated opioid prescription practices in 2014, this study showed increased poly-drug use (two to six-drug combinations) in urban trauma patients between 2014-2018. Opioids and cannabinoids continued to be the most frequently used drugs singly and in combinations.
Keywords: Trauma / Alcohol / Drugs

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