Objectives: For acute traumatic spinal cord injury (ATSCI), this study aimed to determine differences in outcomes between patient groups stratified by admission time (?24 vs 424 h) to the Spinal Injury Unit (SIU) and by the nature of the admission (direct admission to the SIU vs indirect admission via another hospital). We also aimed to measure the effect on time to admission of a 'nonrefusal' policy that triggered immediate acceptance of ATSCI cases to the SIU. Setting: New South Wales, Australia. Methods: Study population was all adult SCI patients admitted to the Prince of Wales SIU from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2012. Patients admitted with chronic-stage SCI or with incomplete data for the duration of their stay were excluded. Comparison of outcomes was made between groups according to the setting of admission. Time to admission before and after initiation (2009) of the 'non-refusal' policy was compared. The prevalence of complications, lengths of stay (LOSs) and time to admission were compared by Mann'Whitney non-parametric methods. Count modelling was used to control for confounders of age and gender. Results: A total of 460 cases were identified and 76 were excluded. The early group had fewer pressure areas (41.8% vs 63.2%; P<0.001) and shorter LOS (136 vs 172 days; P<0.001) than the late group. The direct group had fewer pressure areas (35.2% vs 54.9%, P<0.001), deep vein thrombosis (9.9% vs 24.6%, P=0.003) and shorter LOS (124 vs 158 days, P=0.007) than those admitted indirectly. Time to admission was reduced after introduction of the 'non-refusal' policy (1.53 vs 0.63 days; P=0.001). Conclusions: Early and direct admission to SIU reduced complication rates and LOS. A non-refusal policy reduced time to admission.
- acute traumatic spinal cord injury
- patient admission
- spinal injury unit
- Prospective cohort study