The burden of trauma in four rural district hospitals in Malawi: a retrospective review of medical records.
Chokotho L., Mulwafu W., Jacobsen KH., Pandit H., Lavy C.
BACKGROUND: Few injury surveillance systems collect data in sub-Saharan Africa. This medical record review of four rural hospitals provides baseline data on the burden of trauma in Malawi. METHODS: We reviewed all outpatient, inpatient, and mortuary records for one full year at four of the 28 district hospitals in Malawi: Dedza in central Malawi, Mangochi in the east, Nkhata Bay in the north, and Thyolo in the south. We used descriptive and comparative statistics to examine characteristics of patients and the data file. RESULTS: During 2012, 18,735 trauma patients were treated at the four district hospitals. Trauma cases accounted for 3.5% of the 541,170 patient visits. In total, 60.8% of trauma patients were male; 39.1% were 0–14 years old and 50.4% were 15–49 years old. The logbooks were missing information about the primary type of injury for 44.9% of patients and about injury cause for 82.7%. Of the recorded trauma diagnoses, the most common injuries were soft tissue injuries, fractures, and sprains. The most commonly reported causes of injuries were animal bites (mostly dog bites), road traffic injuries, assaults, burns, and falls. CONCLUSIONS: The development and implementation of improved methods for acquiring more complete, accurate, and useful trauma data in Malawi and other low-income countries requires addressing difficulties that might result in missing data. Increased injury surveillance is critical for improving trauma care and meeting the emerging global demand for burden of disease data.