The value of failure to rescue in determining hospital quality for pediatric trauma

Eric H. Rosenfeld, Wei Zhang, Brittany Johnson, Sohail R. Shah, Adam M. Vogel, Bindi Naik-Mathuria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND In adult trauma patients, high- and low-mortality trauma hospitals have similar rates of major complications but differ based on failure to rescue (mortality following a major complication), which has become a marker of hospital quality. The aim of this study is to examine whether failure to rescue is also an appropriate hospital quality indicator in pediatric trauma. METHODS Children younger than 15 years were identified in the 2007 to 2014 National Trauma Databank research data sets. Hospitals were classified as a high, average or low mortality based on risk-adjusted observed-to-expected in-hospital mortality ratios using the modified Trauma Mortality Probability Model. Regression modeling was used to explore the impact of hospital quality ranking on the incidence of major complications and failure to rescue. RESULTS Of 125,057 children, 31,600 were treated at low-mortality outlier hospitals, and 7,014 at high-mortality outlier hospitals. Low-mortality hospitals had a lower rate of major complications compared with high-mortality hospitals (0.5% [low] vs. 0.8% [high]; adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.61-0.83; p < 0.01) and a lower failure-to-rescue rate (17.6% [low] vs. 24.1% [high]; adjusted OR, 0.53 [high; 95% CI 0.34-0.83; p < 0.01]). When patients who died within 48 hours were excluded, low-mortality hospitals had a lower complication rate (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.68, 0.96; p = 0.02), but similar failure-to-rescue rate compared to high-mortality hospitals. There was no correlation between trauma verification level and hospital mortality status based on the model. CONCLUSION For pediatric trauma patients, mortality is more strongly associated with major complication rate than with failure to rescue. Thus, failure to rescue does not appear to be the key driver of hospital quality in this population as it does in the adult trauma population. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic and epidemiological, level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-798
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Complications
  • failure to rescue
  • quality improvement
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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