Characterizing injury at a tertiary referral hospital in Kenya

PLoS One. 2019 Jul 24;14(7):e0220179. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220179. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: Injury accounts for more than 5.8 million deaths globally with an increasing burden in the developing world. In Kenya, trauma is one of the top 10 leading causes of death. However, no formal continuous injury surveillance systems are in place to inform injury prevention, pre-hospital care or emergency department management. The aim of this study was to implement a hospital-based trauma registry to characterize high acuity injuries presenting to a private tertiary, teaching and referral hospital in Kenya.

Methods: From January to December 2015, data was prospectively collected at a private tertiary, teaching and referral hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. Patients presenting with a traumatic injury for the first time who were admitted to the hospital for at least 48 hours were included in the study. Basic information pertaining to demographics, details of the injury, pre-hospital care and transport, hospital-based management, length of stay and disposition were collected. An injury severity score (ISS) was calculated on each patient and stratified by the mechanism of injury. Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression were used to analyze data and assess risk factors associated with injury severity.

Results: There were 101 patients included in the study, the majority of whom were 30 to 39 years of age and male (63%). Seventy-one per cent of patients had a preexisting medical condition with hypertension (26%) and diabetes (13%) being the most common. The most common mechanism of injury was fall (46%) followed by road traffic incidents (RTI) (32%). Most injuries took place at home (43%). Most RTI were caused by cars (63%), with the driver being the most frequently injured (38%). The most common mode of arrival to the emergency department was by private car (72%). The median time between the accident and arrival at the emergency department was 1hr 10 minutes. The majority of the patients had injuries to one area (83%) with the extremities/bony pelvis (72%) being the most common. The median Injury Severity Score was 5 (range 1-34) with the majority (90%) classified as minor injuries (ISS<12). The highest severity of injury as determined by ISS was seen in gunshot wounds.

Conclusions: Injured patients in Kenya showed concordance with prior studies looking at injury prevalence in the developing world when looking at demographics and place of injury. However, differences were found when looking at the mechanism of injury, with falls surpassing road traffic incidents. A delayed presentation to the hospital was also noted in this patient population. Given the rate of traumatic injuries in Kenya and their contribution to morbidity, mortality and overall healthcare costs, there is a need to implement formal trauma registries in all major hospitals in Kenya to generate more data that can be used to improve injury prevention, the overall trauma system and enhance training and preparedness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / classification*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.