Emergency department care for trauma patients in settings of active conflict versus urban violence: all of the same calibre?

Int Health. 2016 Nov;8(6):390-397. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihw035. Epub 2016 Nov 3.


Background: Trauma is a leading cause of death and represents a major problem in developing countries where access to good quality emergency care is limited. Médecins Sans Frontières delivered a standard package of care in two trauma emergency departments (EDs) in different violence settings: Kunduz, Afghanistan, and Tabarre, Haiti. This study aims to assess whether this standard package resulted in similar performance in these very different contexts.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using routine programme data, comparing patient characteristics and outcomes in two EDs over the course of 2014.

Results: 31 158 patients presented to the EDs: 22 076 in Kunduz and 9082 in Tabarre. Patient characteristics, such as delay in presentation (29.6% over 24 h in Kunduz, compared to 8.4% in Tabarre), triage score, and morbidity pattern differed significantly between settings. Nevertheless, both EDs showed an excellent performance, demonstrating low proportions of mortality (0.1% for both settings) and left without being seen (1.3% for both settings), and acceptable triage performance. Physicians' maximum working capacity was exceeded in both centres, and mainly during rush hours.

Conclusions: This study supports for the first time the plausibility of using the same ED package in different settings. Mapping of patient attendance is essential for planning of human resources needs.

Keywords: Afghanistan; Emergency department; Haiti; Low income countries; Operational research; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Afghanistan
  • Aged
  • Armed Conflicts*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Emergencies
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Haiti
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Physicians
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Triage
  • Urban Population*
  • Violence*
  • Workload
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*