World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 1550–1561 | Cite as

An Assessment of the Hospital Disease Burden and the Facilities for the In-hospital Care of Trauma in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Timothy C. HardcastleEmail author
  • Candice Samuels
  • David J. Muckart



Trauma is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in South Africa. The present study was designed to review the hospital trauma disease burden in light of the facilities available for the care of the injured in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa’s most populous province.

The primary outcomes were the annual hospital burden of trauma in KZN, determined through data extrapolation, and evaluation of the data in light of available hospital facilities within the province of KZN, a developing province. The data were obtained through review of the trauma load in relation to all emergency cases at all levels of hospitals.


Hospital administrators in KZN were requested to submit trauma caseloads for the months of March and September 2010. Caseloads were reviewed to determine the trauma load for the province per category using two extrapolation methods to determine the predicted range of annual incidence of trauma, intentional versus non-intentional trauma ratios and population-related incidence of trauma. The results were GIS mapped to demonstrate variations across districts. Hospital data were obtained from assessments of structure, process, and personnel undertaken prior to a major sporting event. These were compared to the ideal facilities required for accreditation of trauma care facilities of the Trauma Society of South Africa and other established documents.


Data were obtained from 36 of the 47 public hospitals in KZN that manage acute emergency cases. The predicted annual trauma incidence in KZN ranges from 124,000 to 125,000, or 12.9 per 1,000 population. This would imply a national public hospital trauma load on the order of at least 750,000 cases per year. Most hospitals are required to treat trauma; however, within KZN many hospitals do not have adequate personnel, medical equipment, or structural integrity to be formally accredited as trauma care facilities in terms of existing criteria.


There is a significant trauma load that consumes vital emergency center resources. Most hospitals will need extensive upgrading to provide appropriate care for trauma. An inclusive trauma system needs to be formalized and funded, especially in light of the planned National Health Insurance for South Africa


Trauma Care Trauma System Motor Vehicle Collision Trauma Society Regional Facility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy C. Hardcastle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Candice Samuels
    • 2
  • David J. Muckart
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Surgery (Trauma), Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central HospitalUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalMalvernSouth Africa
  2. 2.GIS Unit, Provincial Department of HealthPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Trauma and Critical Care, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central HospitalUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalKwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa

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