Injured patients 'are dying unnecessarily'

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SERIOUSLY injured patients may be dying unnecessarily in hospitals because of below-standard care and delays in treatment, Government-funded research has shown.

A study of nearly 15,000 patients admitted to 33 accident and emergency departments in England and Wales found 'inexplicable' differences in death rates between hospitals and 'unsatisfactory' care in the crucial minutes after admission, too often the responsibility of junior doctors.

The findings have prompted the researchers to call for a review of how accident patients are treated.

Compared to the United States, patients with 'blunt', non-penetrating injuries have poorer chances of survival. The researchers say 295 deaths could have been expected under American standards; instead 408 patients died.

Victims of obvious stabbing or other penetrating wounds are likely to be seen faster by senior doctors and receive surgery sooner. Cases of less visible internal injuries, the majority, are more likely to be seen by the least experienced doctors. In the treatment of penetrating injuries, emergency departments did better or as well as in the US.