SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
GOVENDER, I; MATZOPOULOS, R; MAKANGA, P and CORRIGALL, J. Piloting a trauma surveillance tool for primary healthcare emergency centres. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2012, vol.102, n.5, pp.303-306. ISSN 2078-5135.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to pilot a trauma surveillance tool for use in a primary healthcare emergency centre to provide a risk profile of injury patterns in Elsies River, Cape Town. METHODS: Healthcare workers completed a one-page questionnaire capturing demographic and injury data from trauma patients presenting to the emergency unit of the Elsies River Community Health Centre over a period of 10 days. RESULTS: Trauma cases comprised about one-fifth of the total headcount during the study period. Most injuries took place before midnight. Approximately 47% of the trauma patients were suspected of being under the influence of alcohol with 87% of these cases caused by interpersonal violence; 28% were males between 19 and 35 years old, suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and presenting with injuries due to violence. CONCLUSION: Injury surveillance at primary healthcare emergency centres provides an additional perspective on the injury burden compared with population-level mortality statistics, but the quality of data collection is limited by resource constraints. We recommend that the current trauma register be revised to separate trauma and medical headcounts and enable better resource planning at a facility and subdistrict level. Information gathered must be linked to health and safety interventions aimed at reducing the trauma burden within communities.