Guideline for the assessment of trauma centres for South Africa

S Afr Med J. 2011 Mar 1;101(3):189-94. doi: 10.7196/samj.4682.


Introduction: Trauma is a well-known leading cause of unnatural death and disability in South Africa. Internationally the trend is moving toward systematised care.

Aim: To revise the Trauma Centre Criteria of the Trauma Society of South Africa and align these with the terminology and modern scope of emergency care practice, using best-care principles as a prelude to the development of trauma systems in South Africa.

Methodology: Revision of existing documents of the Trauma Society of South Africa, the Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa and the Critical Care Society of Southern Africa, where these are relevant to the care of trauma. The committee attempted to harmonise these criteria with the goals of the World Health Organization essential trauma care guidelines for trauma centres and trauma systems. Wide expert consultation was undertaken to refine the criteria before final compilation.

Results and recommendations: Four levels of trauma care facility are outlined, with the criteria focusing on the trauma-specific requirements of the facilities and their place in the greater trauma system. Accreditation of hospitals according to the criteria will allow for appropriate transfer and designation of patient destination for trauma patients and will improve the quality of care provided. The criteria address structural, process and human resource requirements and medical aspects for the accreditation of various level of trauma centre.

Conclusion: There is a great opportunity to apply best practice criteria to improve the care of trauma in South Africa and improve patient outcome.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • South Africa
  • Trauma Centers / classification
  • Trauma Centers / standards*
  • Urban Health Services