“Children are different” but, remarkably, very little work has been published which permits an analysis of paediatric trauma care. The main TARN database contains information on over 35,000* children under the age of sixteen and has been a valuable asset. For example it has been used to demonstrate improvements in outcome during the 1990s**. However many aspects of paediatric trauma assessment and management differ significantly from adult trauma care and it has been recognised that the data collection form, designed for adults, requires some changes for children.
In the UK there are very few trauma systems designed exclusively for children but the variation in provision could, perhaps, be described as a natural experiment waiting to be analysed. Are paediatric trauma services better when they are integrated within a children’s hospital or is the system more effective when adult and children’s trauma services are mixed?
‘TARNLET’ was established in 2000 to address these and other questions relating to paediatric trauma care. A discrete paediatric group has been formed and a separate data collection form will be evaluated. A focused paediatric element to the database with more detailed information, particularly about the characteristics of the trauma service, will undoubtedly provide a valuable statistical platform on which to debate the future provision of paediatric services.
*Figure as of June 2011
**Reducing accident rates in children and young adults: the contribution of hospital care.
I Roberts, F Campbell, S Hollis, D Yates on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Major Trauma Outcome Study Group (now TARN): BMJ 313 1239-1241.