The pregnant motor vehicle accident casualty: Adherence to basic workup and admission guidelines

Hen Y. Sela*, Carolyn F. Weiniger, Moshe Hersch, Arnon Smueloff, Neri Laufer, Sharon Einav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the workup/treatment provided to pregnant motor vehicle accident (MVA) casualties in a mature trauma system. Adherence to recommendations was used to measure quality of care. Background: MVAs affect approximately 3% of pregnant women. Trauma casualty outcome improves after implementation of guidelines. Methods: A 5-year audit of clinical practice in 2 university hospitals with a trauma call system where the general surgeon is the primary care physician. Trauma guidelines (general/specific to treatment of pregnant MVA casualties) were used to examine adherence. Pregnant casualties aged >18 years, injured in a private vehicle were identified via computerized hospital databases. Data relevant to the study were extracted from ED/admission files. Results: Among the 236 casualties included there were no maternal deaths. Six casualties (2.5%) had significant injuries and 3 (1.2%) required surgery (all within 24-hours of admission). Contrary to established procedure, maternal vital signs were often not documented. In contrast, fetal viability was usually documented; most casualties underwent ultrasound fetal evaluation (233 of 236, 98.7%) and those with viable pregnancies underwent fetal heart rate monitoring (162 of 169, 96%). A sixth of the MVA casualties (16%) were examined only by an obstetrician. All casualties were admitted but only 15 (6.4%) were admitted in accordance with guidelines. Readmission rates (1.3%) were similar to those observed in nonpregnant casualties. Conclusions: Pregnant MVA casualties are underexamined and overadmitted. Concerns regarding potential obstetrical complications distract medical attention away from basic trauma guidelines. Education programs should emphasize prioritizing the mother and adhering to the basic rules of trauma care despite the presence of the fetus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-352
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


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