OBJECTIVE: This study aims to review a series of deaths by trauma in a large metropolis. The intention is to identify preventable causes of death. METHODS: We prospectively studied 500 unselected and consecutive cases of death associated with trauma. The study variables were: mechanism of injury, etiology, site of injury, surgical intervention, medical malpractice, damaged organs and the prevention of mortality. The cases were grouped according to the mechanism of injury in: penetrating trauma, blunt trauma, poisoning, drowning, burns and suffocation. RESULTS: We examined 418 (83.6%) males and 82 (16.4%) females (mean age 39 ± 19.6 years, ranging from three to 91 years). Penetrating trauma accounted for 217 (43%) cases, while blunt trauma accounted for 40% of cases. The most common mechanism of injury in death by penetrating trauma was gunshot, representing 41% of cases. Within the set of blunt trauma, the most common mechanism was traffic accident, which represented 22% of total deaths. There were 71 (14%) cases of preventable deaths: thromboembolism in 35 (7%), infectious complications in 25 (5%), medical malpractice in seven (1%) and treatable lesions in outpatients in five (1%). CONCLUSION: This study shows that traumatic death in the city of São Paulo is associated with serious and complex injuries. Prevention of these types of death would be related to the control of violence.
Wounds and injuries; Mortality; Autopsy; Prevention and control