Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control recently released a report on elderly pedestrians saying that they are far more likely to die in a traffic accident than others. As the population continues to age, we can expect far more traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians, too. It makes sense when you think about it.
Geriatric Trauma Risks
Elderly trauma patients are all more likely to die due to all of their co-morbid factors. From brittle bones, to declines in vision and hearing plus all of the additional chronic illnesses associated with aging, elderly patients are more likely to be unable to compensate for serious traumatic injury.
It follows that as pedestrians, the elderly are more at risk. They are less likely to detect oncoming vehicles or be able to successfully avoid collision when detected because of their sensory and mobility deficits. When they are struck, their bones are more likely to break due to their brittle nature. Injuries sustained that cause shock are more likely to cause a fatal reaction because of impaired compensatory mechanisms associated with things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and the medications that treat them.
Higher Index of Suspicion for Serious Injury
Additional information that came out of the data release by the CDC was that men were more likely than women to be struck and killed by a motor vehicle but this additional data point may reflect more risk taking behaviors by males or that males tend to be found walking in more dangerous traffic situations.
Whatever the case may be, studies like this one help to remind us that we must be prepared to aggressively treat and manage elderly pedestrian and trauma patients so that we can ensure they are given the best chance to survive their injuries. We must err on the side of caution when assessing these patients, assuming more injury likelihood based solely on mechanism of injury. If we do these things, we will be more likely to have a positive patient outcome and avoid having our patient become one of these statistics.
Follow-up on the link for this and other news items as well as all of the additional resource links in the show notes for this episode – A Blast Injury Review for EMS (part 1) and Episode 332.