Background: The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the usefulness of the International Association for Trauma Surgery and Intensive Care (IATSIC)/World Health Organization (WHO)'s Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care (EsTC Guidelines) in providing an internationally applicable and standardized template to assess trauma care capabilities in the South American Region.
Methods: Field assessment was conducted in seven provinces (urban and rural, pop. 2,239,509) and 24 facilities (5 large hospitals (LH); 15 small hospitals (SH); 4 basic hospitals (BH)) in Ecuador using EsTC criteria. A total of 260 individual items in Human Resources (HR- availability, clinical knowledge, skills) and physical resources (PR) were evaluated via inspection, review of local statistics, and administrative and staff interviews. EsTC was evaluated on a scale as follows: 0 (absent); 1(inadequate; < 50%); 2 (partly adequate > 50%); 3 (adequate-100%).
Results: 210,045 Emergency Department (ED) visits and 61,365 (29%) ED trauma visits were recorded (incidence rate 2,740/100,000 population). Deficits were noted in prehospital trauma care (inadequate coordination, communication), education and training (ATLS < 30%, TNCC 0%), facility based trauma care (poor physical resources [PR] and human resources [HR]), and quality assurance (1/27 hospitals).
Conclusions: The IATSIC/WHO EsTC Guidelines provide a simple and useful template to assess trauma care capability in variable facilities and international settings, and they could serve as a valuable tool for trauma system development. Endorsement of EsTC Guidelines by the Panamerican Health Organization and lead trauma societies (the Panamerican Trauma Society) should be considered.