The Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS) has run a systematic quality improvement programme since 2006. A key component included the development and implementation of an effective surveillance system in the form of an electronic surgical registry (ESR). This study used data from the ESR to review the incidence, spectrum and outcome of paediatric trauma in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.METHODS
The ESR was reviewed, and all cases of paediatric trauma managed between 1 January 2012 and 30 July 2014 were retrieved for analysis.RESULTS
During the study period, 1,041 paediatric trauma patients (724 male, 69.5%) were managed by the PMTS, averaging a monthly admission of 36. The mean age was 10.9 years (standard deviation: 5.4 years). The mechanism of injury (MOI) was blunt trauma in 753 patients (72.3%) and penetrating trauma in 170 (16.3%). Pedestrian vehicle collisions accounted for 21% of cases and motor vehicle collisions for a further 11%. Intentional trauma accounted for 282 patients (27.1%) and self-inflicted trauma for 14 cases (1.3%). Ninety patients admitted to the intensive care unit and fifty-one required high dependency unit admission. There were 17 deaths, equating to an in-hospital mortality rate of 1.7%. A total of 172 children died on the scene of an incident. There were 35 road traffic related deaths, 26 suicides by hanging, 27 deaths from blunt assault and 23 deaths from penetrating assault. The overall mortality rate for paediatric trauma was 18.2%.CONCLUSIONS
The ESR has proved to be an effective surveillance system and has enabled the accurate quantification of the burden of paediatric trauma in Pietermaritzburg. This has improved our understanding of the mechanisms and patterns of injury, and has identified a high incidence of intentional and penetrating trauma as well as road traffic collisions. These data can be used to guide strategies to reduce the burden of paediatric trauma in our environment.