The records of all 437 persons who died from trauma in San Francisco in 1977 were examined. Sixty-five percent of the sample (285 were younger than 50 years, and 119 were between ages 21 and 30. Gunshot wounds (140 or 32 percent) and falls (122 or 28 percent) were the most common causes of injury. Fifty-three percent of the sample were dead at the scene of injury before transport could be accomplished, 7.5 percent died in the emergency room, and 39.5 percent died in the hospital. Fifty-five percent of the 359 patients who died within the first 2 days died from brain injury, while 78 percent of the 55 late deaths were due to sepsis and multiple organ failure. In 10 cases (2 percent), death was due to delayed transport or to errors in diagnosis and treatment and was deemed preventable. The key areas in which advances are necessary in order to reduce the number of trauma deaths are prevention of trauma, more rapid and skilled transport of injured victims, better early management of primary brain injuries, and more effective treatment of the late complications of sepsis and multiple organ failure.
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