Objective: To identify affordable, sustainable methods to strengthen trauma care capabilities in Mexico, using the standards in the Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care, a publication that was developed by the World Health Organization and the International Society of Surgery to provide recommendations on elements of trauma care that should be in place in the various levels of health facilities in all countries.
Methods: The Guidelines publication was used as a basis for needs assessments conducted in 2003 and 2004 in three Mexican states. The states were selected to represent the range of geographic and economic conditions in the country: Oaxaca (south, lower economic status), Puebla (center, middle economic status), and Nuevo León (north, higher economic status). The sixteen facilities that were assessed included rural clinics, small hospitals, and large hospitals. Site visits incorporated direct inspection of physical resources as well as interviews with key administrative and clinical staff.
Results: Human and physical resources for trauma care were adequate in the hospitals, especially the larger ones. The survey did identify some deficiencies, such as shortages of stiff suction tips, pulse oximetry equipment, and some trauma-related medications. All of the clinics had difficulties with basic supplies for resuscitation, even though some received substantial numbers of trauma patients. In all levels of facilities there was room for improvement in administrative functions to assure quality trauma care, including trauma registries, trauma-related quality improvement programs, and uniform in-service training.
Conclusions: This study identified several low-cost ways to strengthen trauma care in Mexico. The study also highlighted the usefulness of the recommended norms in the Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care publication in providing a standardized template by which to assess trauma care capabilities in nations worldwide.