Background: Teletrauma programs allow rural patients access to advanced trauma and emergency medical services that are often limited to urban areas. Methods: A retrospective analysis of 59 teleconsults between 5 rural hospitals and a level I trauma center was performed. The objectives of this study were to report the initial experience with a telemedicine program connecting 5 rural hospitals with a level I trauma center. Results: A total of 59 trauma and general surgery patients were evaluated. Of those, 35 (59%) were trauma patients, and 24 (41%) were general surgery patients. Fifty patients (85%) were from the first hospital at which teletrauma was established. For 6 patients, the teletrauma consults were considered potentially lifesaving; 17 patients (29%) were kept in the rural hospitals (8 trauma and 9 general surgery patients). Treating patients in the rural hospitals avoided transfers, saving an average of $19,698 per air transport or $2,055 per ground transport. Conclusions: The telepresence of a trauma surgeon aids in the initial evaluation, treatment, and care of patients, improving outcomes and reducing the costs of trauma care.
- Rural trauma
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