The preventability of trauma-related death at a tertiary hospital in Ghana: a multidisciplinary panel review approach

Afr J Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;9(4):202-206. doi: 10.1016/j.afjem.2019.08.002. Epub 2019 Oct 18.


Introduction: The purpose of the study was to determine the preventable trauma-related death rate (PDR) at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana three years after initiation of an Emergency Medicine (EM) residency.

Method: This was a retrospective, cross-sectional study. A multidisciplinary panel of physicians completed a structured implicit review of clinical data for trauma patients who died during the period 2011 to 2012. The panel judged the preventability of each death and the nature of inappropriate care. Categories were definitely preventable (DP), possibly preventable (PP), and not preventable (NP).

Results: 1) The total number of cases was forty-five; 36 cases had adequate data for review. Subjects were predominately male; road traffic injury (RTI) was the leading mechanism of injury. Four cases (11.1%) were DP, 14 cases (38.9%) were PP and 18 (50%) were NP. Hemorrhage was the leading cause of death (39%). Among DP/PP deaths there were 37 instances of inappropriate care. Delay in surgical intervention was the predominate event (50%). 2) The PDR for this study was 50% (0.95 CI, 33.7%-66.3%).

Conclusion: Fifty percent of trauma deaths were DP/PP. Multiple episodes of varying types of inappropriate care occurred. More efficient surgical evaluation and appropriate treatment of hemorrhage could reduce trauma morality. Large amounts of missing and incomplete clinical data suggest considerable selection bias. A major implication of this study is the importance of having a robust, prospective trauma registry to collect clinical information to increase the number of cases for review.

Keywords: Emergency medicine Ghana; Structured panel review; Tertiary care Ghana; Trauma care; Trauma-related death.