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Doctor says trauma incidents from road crashes reduced

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) Dr Elon Thompson says trauma cases from road accidents appear to have been reduced over the past few weeks, as the country focuses on the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

He told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that, from observation, those incidents which would normally present at accident and emergency departments in overwhelming numbers, have declined.

Dr Thompson said the decline could possibly be attributed to new restrictions on movement, which has caused less vehicular traffic and interactions.

He pointed to a big drop in motorcycle crashes, for example, which the National Road Safety Unit has repeatedly raised concerns about as these make up a significant number of the road users killed in crashes each year.

“I don't think Jamaica knows the number of motorcycle accidents that takes place on a daily basis, with un-helmeted riders who disobey the law every single day and meet in accidents, and so on. You will find that the less people who are on the roads the less incidents of trauma. I'm not sure how domestic violence will decrease [as] we will see how that unfolds, but the number of trauma cases have reduced, I think. Of course, I would have to have evidence from the emergency room to confirm it but, based on what we see on the back end for the speciality services at KPH (Kingston Public Hospital), we are seeing some reduction,” he outlined.

He noted as well that restrictions for bars, other places of amusement, and social gatherings, could also be a factor with less people driving under the influence, leading to crashes, and the resultant trauma.

The JMDA has, meanwhile, expressed concerns about the availability of blood at this time for those who need it, given that the health sector now has to take extra precaution to ensure that donors are in good health, in the outbreak of COVID-19.

“My concern is that you will have trauma cases, albeit in smaller numbers. This situation [concerning COVID-19] will come with a reduction in the number of persons who are donating blood,” he said, noting that the Blood Bank has again been appealing for regular blood donors to come in. “So, donors need to make contact with the Blood Bank to see how they can continue to donate safely,” he urged.

Meanwhile, Dr Thompson said the JMDA welcomes the move by the Ministry of Health to broaden screening for the coronavirus.

On Monday, in an update to the nation, health officials announced that testing for the virus will be broadened to include testing for persons who are hospitalised with serious respiratory illnesses, and those who visit hospital emergency departments with serious influenza-like symptoms.

“It is a good move; things are fluid so from time to time things will change, based on what's happening. We had made the suggestion for health-care workers to be routinely tested when appropriate and that has also been mentioned by Ministry of Health officials. So all in all, with regard to testing, things will continue to change if the situation changes. There can always be an argument for capacity – the number of reliable test kits that we have available to us, but that is something that can always be improved. I don't think you're always going to be prepared enough for testing for any one disorder (and) it's based on projection that they will have the capacity to test,” he explained.

 Dr Thompson said the JMDA is pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the discussions, as part of the national committee which makes these decisions, and hopes that other stakeholder organisations will follow suit.