Lack of Acute Hand Care in the Southwest United States

Timothy S. Brown, Lauren S. Hinojosa, Kelly E. Cline, Sheena R. Black, Marissa D. Jamieson, Adam J. Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe the epidemiology of acute hand injuries and hand infections and to describe the factors associated with the transfer of these patients to a level 1 trauma center. In addition, we sought to understand management before transfer. Design: Retrospective review of patients with hand trauma or hand infection transferred to our level 1 trauma center from May 2009 to August 2011. We also identified hospitals with emergency departments (EDs) in our region and surveyed ED providers in these hospitals with regard to acute hand care. Setting: A level 1 trauma center in the United States. Patients: Four hundred sixty consecutive transfers for acute hand care. Results: The average patient age was 38. Most were male (84%), uninsured (51%), and from another county (59%). The average distance of transfer was 51 miles, and 80% were transferred by ground ambulance. The most common reasons for transfer were amputations (24%), infections (21%), lacerations (17%), and fractures/dislocations (16%). Of the 345 hospitals with an ED surveyed, 71% never had hand surgery coverage. Conclusions: Patients transferred for acute hand care were young and male, and traveled an average 51 miles to get to our center. More than half of these patients were treated and discharged from our ED. This indicates that a majority may have been managed in a clinic setting. Most EDs in our region do not have a hand surgeon available. Most emergency physicians surveyed had received little training in management of acute hand injuries and hand infections. Further research is needed to identify methods to remove barriers to provision of care for patients with hand trauma. Level of Evidence: Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e129-e131
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • acute care
  • hand infections
  • hand surgery
  • hand trauma
  • surgeon availability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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