The abbreviated injury scale: A valuable tool for forensic documentation of trauma

Zvulun Friedman*, Chen Kugel, Jehuda Hiss, Baruch Marganit, Michael Stein, Shmuel C. Shapira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anatomic trauma scoring systems are fundamental to trauma research. The Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) and its derivative, the Injury Severity Score (ISS), are the most frequently used scales. We assessed the applicability of the AIS and the ISS systems for postmortem forensic documentation of trauma. In a prospective study, all trauma autopsies performed between January 1 and June 30, 1993, were coded according to the AIS and ISS method. All cases were reviewed by a consultant in forensic medicine and a traumatologist. Cases were grouped in three categories according to ISS values: 0-14, 16-66, and 75. These categories represent minor, major, and incompatible-with-life injuries, respectively. All autopsy findings in which ISS was ≤14 were peer- reviewed to establish mechanism and cause of death. In the 6-month period, 279 trauma-related autopsies were studied. Age at death averaged 37.1 ± 18.7 (mean ± SD). Eighty-six percent of the victims were male. Penetrating trauma was the mechanism of injury in 67%. ISS was 0-14 in 19 cases, 16-66 in 150 cases, and 75 in 110 cases. In conclusion, AIS and ISS scoring systems are applicable to trauma forensic documentation. Using these methods for coding postmortem findings may help in establishing a database for trauma research, and this information could constitute a major part of continuous quality improvement of trauma management. Low ISS values may serve as a warning, sometimes indicating preventable death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Forensic autopsy
  • Trauma scoring


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