Injuries constitute a large proportion of the emergency surgical patient load in most hospitals. It constitutes a major public health threat and is the leading cause of death in persons aged between 1 and 44 years, accounting for up to 72% of deaths in some age groups (e.g. 15–24 years). The effect of injury as a public health burden is particularly felt in low and middle-income countries that experience 90% of the global mortality from injury. In 2010, 5.1 million deaths resulted from injuries surpassing the cumulative mortality from the more prominent public health concerns in LMICs (HIV-AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis at 3.8 million deaths).
Over a 15 year period from February 2000 to January 2015, all patients that presented to the surgical emergency of a University Teaching Hospital were enrolled into a prospective observational study to observe the patterns of presentation and epidemiology. Data was collected at presentation and analysis was done at the end of the 15 year period.
A total of 17,0677 patients were admitted via the surgical emergency ward over the period. Most of the patients were young adults (47.1%) with an average age at presentation of 32.38 (s.d 19.2). 11 779 patients (69%) presented to the hospital following trauma while the remaining 31% presented with other surgical emergencies. Road traffic crashes accounted for the vast majority of the injuries (59.6%) while falls and assaults accounted for 9.8% and 7.2% respectively. Occupational injuries and sports injuries were relatively rare, accounting for only 1.2% and 0.4% of cases respectively.
Injuries constitute a large proportion of the emergency surgical health care demands in this environment. Road traffic injuries continue to account for majority of injuries presenting to the hospitals with young adult males being the main victims.