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South African Journal of Surgery

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5151
versión impresa ISSN 0038-2361


LEE, B et al. The neglected epidemic of trauma from interpersonal violence against the elderly in South Africa. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2022, vol.60, n.4, pp.278-283. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: Geriatric injuries comprise a significant burden in the developed world but much less are known in the developing world setting. This study aims to review our experience of geriatric injuries with a focus on interpersonal violence (IPV) managed at a major trauma centre in South Africa. METHODS: This was a retrospective study on all patients who were aged > 65 years admitted to our trauma centre from January 2013 to December 2020, based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. RESULTS: Over the 8-year study period, 323 cases were included (62% male, mean age 72 years). Mechanism of injury: 80% blunt, 16% penetrating and 4% others. The median injury severity score (ISS) was 9. The median Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) for all 323 cases was 3. Diabetes (n = 53) was the most prevalent comorbidity which was followed by pulmonary disease (n = 23), cerebral vascular accidents (n = 16) and myocardial infarction (n = 15). Fifteen patients were on antiretroviral therapy (5%). Twenty-four per cent required surgical intervention. Eight per cent of cases experienced one or more complications. Twenty-five per cent (80/323) were related to IPV, 61% (49/80) of these were penetrating injuries and the remaining 31 cases were blunt injuries. Of the 49 cases of penetrating injuries, 33 were gunshot wounds (GSWs) and 16 were stab wounds (SWs) (1 GSW and 2 SWs were self-inflicted and were not included in IPV). Those cases that resulted from IPV were significantly more likely to require operative intervention, experience complications and longer lengths of hospital stay. Geriatric patients had poorer outcomes than non-geriatric patients and rural geriatric patients had worse outcomes than urban geriatric patients. CONCLUSION: Although the burden of geriatric trauma in South Africa appears to be relatively low, it is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Trauma from interpersonal violence is especially common and is associated with significantly worse outcomes than that of non-interpersonal violence-related trauma. Elderly rural trauma victims have worse outcomes than their urban counterparts.

Palabras clave : trauma; geriatric; interpersonal violence.

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