Geographic Distribution of Orthopaedic Trauma Resources and Service Use in the United States: A Cross Sectional Analysis

Molly P. Jarman, Michael J. Weaver, Adil H. Haider, Ali Salim, Mitchel B. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Management of orthopaedic injury is an essential component of comprehensive trauma care, and availability of orthopaedic surgeons impacts trauma system capacity and accessibility of care. We sought to estimate the geographic distribution of orthopaedic injury in the United States and identify regions needing additional orthopaedic trauma resources. Methods: In this retrospective cross-sectional study using 2014 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality State Inpatient Datasets from 26 states and the District of Columbia, administrative data were used to determine hospital referral region (HRR)-level incidence of orthopaedic trauma and surgical care. Factors associated with HRR-level orthopaedic trauma volume were identified using negative binomial regression, and model parameters were used to estimate injury incidence and operative volume in unobserved HRRs. The primary outcomes of interest were HRR-level incidence of orthopaedic injury, polytrauma, and emergency orthopaedic surgery, as well and the number of emergency orthopaedic surgery patients per orthopaedic surgeon. Results: Orthopaedic injury incidence and operative patients per orthopaedic surgeon were associated with HRR-level volume of medical service use, population characteristics, geographic characteristics, and existing trauma care resources. Orthopaedic injury incidence ranged from 20 patients/HRR to 33,260 patients/HRR. Polytrauma incidence ranged from < 10 patients/HRR to 12,140 patients/HRR. Emergency orthopaedic surgery incidence ranged from < 10 patients/HRR to 18,759 patients/HRR. The volume of operative orthopaedic trauma patients per orthopaedic surgeon ranged from < 10 patients/surgeon to 224 patients and/or surgeon. Discussion: The incidence of orthopaedic injury and volume of injury patients per orthopaedic surgeon varies substantially across HRRs in the United States. Regions with high patient volume and moderate patient-to-provider ratios may be ideal settings for orthopaedic trauma training programs or post-fellowship professional opportunities. Future research should examine the impact of high volume orthopaedic trauma volume and high patient-to-provider ratios on health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-335
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Injury
  • Orthopaedic trauma
  • Trauma systems


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