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Professor calls for trauma units in hospitals

Friday, December 29, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Trevor McCartney, has called for the establishment of Type B Trauma Units in public hospitals.

He said this is very necessary to deal with the proliferation of injuries resulting from violence and road traffic crashes, and the associated costs to deal with victims.

McCartney was speaking at the Cost of Care Study launch, which took place at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Mona, St Andrew, recently.

The deputy dean argued that establishment of the trauma units would free up the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) for other persons suffering from ailments such as cancers, tumours and vascular diseases.

McCartney's call comes against the background of the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) 2014 Cost of Care Study, which indicates that the Government spent an estimated $12.6 billion that year to deliver direct and indirect healthcare to persons admitted islandwide with injuries sustained from 25,000 violence-related cases, 13,000 road crashes and 500 cases of attempted suicide.

He pointed out that patient injury risk profiles captured under the Jamaica hospital-based injuries surveillance system, established in 1999, showed that the annual homicide rate increased from an average of just over eight persons per 100,000 of the population in 1990 to between 65 and 70 in 2017.

Additionally, since 2005, road traffic deaths have averaged between 300 and 400 per annum.

“We have to be able to address the issues to understand that not only is it an increased workload on the (hospital) staff, increased emotional stress (and) increased utilisation of resources, but, more importantly, because (these) injuries require the use of ICUs, persons who have serious illnesses would be unable to (readily) access their care,” the deputy dean said.

“What is required now is to have what we call a Type B Trauma Unit, where we can separate persons who suffer trauma and have them dealt with in a separate entity within an institution, to allow persons with (ongoing medical ailments) to have their treatment,” McCartney added.

Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, who spoke at the launch, said the prevailing scenario also underscores the need for prevention as opposed to curative interventions.

“We have to realign our resources and efforts to try and get Jamaicans to lead lives, whether on the road or in communication with your neighbours (in the event) of a dispute, in a manner that minimises (violence) and the need to treat injuries, and having to bear the associated cost,” he said.

Against this background, Dr Tufton said the ministry plans to place greater emphasis on prevention as a central focus of the public-health perspective.

Chair of the VPA, Dr Elizabeth Ward, concurred with Dr Tufton as it relates to placing more focus on prevention.

She noted that about 16 per cent of persons seeking treatment for violence-related injuries are admitted, adding that “we have a small number that actually die in hospital”.

DrWard contended that approximately 80 per cent of the violence-related injuries and 90 per cent resulting from road traffic crashes “can be prevented”.

“We can make significant financial and social savings that can be used effectively to implement prevention programmes to address these problems,” she added.

The Cost of Care Study's preparation was a joint initiative also involving the Health Ministry, National Health Fund, Mona GeoInformatics Institute, UWI and JN Foundation.

The document looked at trends in hospital injury data, comparing the cost of care in 2006 and 2014.

Data were collected from cases seen at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston Public Hospital, Bustamante Hospital for Children, Spanish Town Hospital, May Pen Hospital, St Ann's Bay Hospital and Cornwall Regional Hospital.

Director of JN Foundation, Parris Lyew-Ayee, Sr, said the organisation was happy to co-fund the research “because of its significance to the society,” adding that it was consistent with the entity's long-term objective, “which is to enhance the health and safety of all Jamaicans”.

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