Background: Road traffic crash is of growing public health importance worldwide contributing significantly to the global disease burden. There is paucity of published data on road traffic crashes in our local environment. This study was carried out to describe the injury characteristics and outcome of road traffic crash victims in our local setting and provide baseline data for establishment of prevention strategies as well as treatment protocols.
Methods: This was a prospective hospital based study of road traffic crash victims carried out at Bugando Medical Centre in Northwestern Tanzania between March 2010 and February 2011. After informed consent to participate in the study, all patients were consecutively enrolled into the study. Data were collected using a pre-tested questionnaire and analyzed using SPSS computer software version 15.0.
Results: A total of 1678 road traffic crash victims were studied. Their male to female ratio was of 2.1:1. The patients ages ranged from 3 to 78 years with the mean and median of 29.45 (± 24.22) and 26.12 years respectively. The modal age group was 21-30 years, accounting for 52.1% patients. Students (58.8%) and businessmen (35.9%) were the majority of road traffic crash victims. Motorcycle (58.8%) was responsible for the majority of road traffic crashes. Musculoskeletal (60.5%) and the head (52.1%) were the most common body region injured. Open wounds (65.9%) and fractures (26.3%) were the most common type of injuries sustained. The majority of patients (80.3%) were treated surgically. Wound debridement was the most common procedure performed in 81.2% of the patients. The complication rate was 23.7%. The overall average length of hospital stay (LOS) was 23.5 ± 12.3 days. Mortality rate was 17.5%. According to multivariate logistic regression analysis, patients who had severe trauma (Kampala Trauma Score II ≤ 6) and those with long bone fractures stayed longer in the hospital and this was significant (P < 0.001) whereas the age of the patient, severe trauma (Kampala Trauma Score II ≤ 6), admission Systolic Blood Pressure < 90 mmHg and severe head injury (Glasgow Coma Score = 3-8) significantly influenced mortality (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Road traffic crashes constitute a major public health problem in our setting and contribute significantly to unacceptably high morbidity and mortality. Urgent preventive measures targeting at reducing the occurrence of road traffic crashes is necessary to reduce the morbidity and mortality resulting from these injuries. Early recognition and prompt treatment of road traffic injuries is essential for optimal patient outcome.