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Trauma Overview

Trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans under 45 years of age. For those ages 15-24, trauma causes 73 percent of all deaths. Because trauma is more common among young adults, more years of potential life are lost due to trauma than to heart disease or cancer. The total economic costs associated with trauma are greater than $580 billion dollars annually, making trauma America's most costly disease.

Almost 80 percent of Alabama’s trauma cases are caused by motor vehicle crashes, and Alabama has the fourth highest per capita highway trauma death rate in the U.S. Only 28 percent of Alabama’s motor vehicle crashes are in rural areas, but these account for more than two-thirds of the state’s trauma deaths (69 percent).

At present, 60 percent of trauma patients in Alabama initially go to hospitals without trauma capabilities. Not all injured patients need the type of care offered by trauma centers. In fact, 90 percent of injuries are minor and can be treated at a local community hospital. However, the remaining 10 percent who do have life-threatening injuries require quick, specialized care that can only be provided by a trauma center. For these critically injured patients, the mortality rate can be significantly improved - if they are able to receive trauma care (in the operating room) within an hour of injury.

*Statistics from U.S. & Alabama Dept. of Transportation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and UAB Trauma Center research.

Page last updated: May 13, 2021