Early tracheostomy has been advocated for ventilator-dependent patients with blunt trauma, but its advantages have not been examined critically. METHODS:
We retrospectively reviewed our experience with all patients with blunt trauma undergoing tracheostomy during the 6-year period from 1990 to 1995. Patients undergoing tracheostomy within the first 6 days of hospitalization were designated as early recipients (ET) and those undergoing the procedure at 7 or more days were defined as late recipients (LT). RESULTS:
The entire study group consisted of 157 patients. The ET group contained 62 patients and the LT group contained 95 patients. No statistical differences were noted between the 2 groups with respect to sex distribution, injury severity scores, probability of survival scores, or mortality rates. The mean stay in the intensive care unit for the ET group was 15 days compared with 29 days for the LT group (P < or = .001). The mean total hospital stay for the ET group was 33 days compared with 68 days for the LT group (P < or = .001). The mean estimated per-patient hospital charges for only room and ventilator care were $36,609 for the ET group compared with $73,714 for the LT group. CONCLUSIONS:
ET in this patient group resulted in significantly lowered use of resources with no adverse effect on outcome.
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