BACKGROUND: South Africa (SA) has one of the highest gun-related mortality rates in the world - 20 people per day. The available data, however, do not reflect the substantial number of patients suffering non-lethal firearm injuries. Gunshot-related injury has been recognised as a highly costly healthcare problem by individual treating centres in SA and other countries; however, no 'national picture' has been examined in detail. OBJECTIVES: To explore the burden of gunshot-related orthopaedic injuries across SA. METHODS: A multicentre research network was established in SA, and 37 orthopaedic units across 9 provinces participated. A prospective, observational cohort study was performed during a 2-week period in 2019. Patients were screened, enrolled and reported by local orthopaedic teams. Patients were included if they had at least one acute gunshot-related orthopaedic fracture referred to the orthopaedic service. Patients were asked additional questions around baseline health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) and personal circumstances. Follow-up was at 8 weeks after injury. RESULTS: Thirty-seven centres enrolled 135 patients over the 2-week study period. Western Cape Province had the highest number of reported cases (n=52; 39%), followed by Gauteng (n=35; 26%) and KwaZulu-Natal (n=29; 21%). The median age of patients was 30.5 years and the majority were male (89%). Forty-three percent of patients had been either shot or stabbed prior to this injury. Fifty-two percent of all patients required fracture fixation surgery and 11% required wound debridement without fracture fixation. HRQOL data were collected successfully at baseline, but follow-up data were available for <25% of cases. CONCLUSIONS: Gunshot-related orthopaedic injuries represent a significant burden of disease in the SA healthcare environment. This study highlights several areas for further research in the management of the injuries and associated outcomes.
S afr med j
655 - 660
Adult, Bone and Bones, Debridement, Female, Fracture Fixation, Humans, Male, Prospective Studies, South Africa, Wounds, Gunshot