The Geography of Injuries in Trauma Systems: Using Home as a Proxy for Incident Location

Jamison Beiriger, David Silver, Liling Lu, Francis X. Guyette, Stephen Wisniewski, Ernest E. Moore, Martin Schreiber, Bellal Joseph, Chad T. Wilson, Bryan Cotton, Daniel Ostermayer, Brian G. Harbrecht, Mayur Patel, Jason L. Sperry, Joshua B. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Effective trauma system organization is crucial to timely access to care and requires accurate understanding of injury and resource locations. Many systems rely on home zip codes to evaluate geographic distribution of injury; however, few studies have evaluated the reliability of home as a proxy for incident location after injury. Methods: We analyzed data from a multicenter prospective cohort collected from 2017 to 2021. Injured patients with both home and incident zip codes were included. Outcomes included discordance and differential distance between home and incident zip code. Associations of discordance with patient characteristics were determined by logistic regression. We also assessed trauma center catchment areas based on home versus incident zip codes and variation regionally at each center. Results: Fifty thousand one hundred seventy-five patients were included in the analysis. Home and incident zip codes were discordant in 21,635 patients (43.1%). Injuries related to motor vehicles (aOR: 4.76 [95% CI 4.50-5.04]) and younger adults 16-64 (aOR: 2.46 [95% CI 2.28-2.65]) were most likely to be discordant. Additionally, as injury severity score increased, discordance increased. Trauma center catchment area differed up to two-thirds of zip codes when using home versus incident location. Discordance rate, discordant distance, and catchment area overlap between home and incident zip codes all varied significantly by geographic region. Conclusions: Home location as proxy for injury location should be used with caution and may impact trauma system planning and policy, especially in certain populations. More accurate geolocation data are warranted to further optimize trauma system design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Discordance
  • Distance
  • Geospatial
  • Location
  • Trauma system
  • Zip code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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