BACKGROUND: As the mean age of the US population increases, so does the incidence of geriatric trauma. Investigators have shown that the elderly have high morbidity and mortality rates associated with traumatic injuries. OBJECTIVE: To compare the severity of injury, mortality, and functional outcomes of geriatric patients with younger patients admitted to a suburban trauma center. METHOD: A convenience sample of trauma patients who were 65 years old or older was compared with trauma patients who were 35 to 45 and 55 to 64 years old. Demographic data, injury data, Injury Severity Scores, Revised Trauma Scores, length of stay, and functional ability outcomes were abstracted from a trauma registry in aggregate form and then analyzed. RESULTS: The sample consisted of 766 subjects (age 35-45, n = 223; age 55-64, n = 135; age 65 and older, n = 408) with a mean age of 64.6 years. A larger percentage of the elderly were victims of falls; younger trauma patients were more likely to be victims of motor vehicle crashes. Significant differences were found between age groups on Glasgow Coma Scale scores. Revised Trauma Scores, and length of stay. Significant differences were not found on Injury Severity Scores, mortality rates, or functional outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Although anatomic injury severity of elderly patients was similar to that of younger patients, the elderly demonstrated greater physiologic compromise and longer hospital stays. Mortality rates were lower for the elderly group, but this result might be because a larger proportion of elderly patients were hospitalized with minor or moderate injuries.

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