Anatomic Location and Mechanism of Injury Correlating with Prehospital Deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa
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Trauma is a large contributor to morbidity and mortality in developing countries. We sought to determine which anatomic injury locations and mechanisms of injury predispose to prehospital mortality in Malawi to help target preventive and therapeutic interventions. We hypothesized that head injury would result in the highest prehospital mortality.
This was a retrospective analysis of all trauma patients presenting to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 2008 to 2015. Independent variables included baseline characteristics, anatomic location of primary injury, mechanism of injury, and severity of secondary injuries. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the effect of primary injury location and injury mechanism on prehospital death, after adjusting for confounders. Effect measure modification of the primary injury site/prehospital death relationship by injury mechanism (stratified into intentional and unintentional injury) was assessed.
Of 85,806 patients, 701 died in transit (0.8%). Five hundred and five (72%) of these patients sustained a primary head injury. After adjustment, head injury was the anatomic location most associated with prehospital death (OR 11.81 (95% CI 6.96–20.06, p < 0.0001). The mechanisms of injury most associated with prehospital death were gunshot wounds (OR 38.23, 95% CI 17.66–87.78, p < 0.0001) and pedestrian hit by vehicle (OR 2.62, 95% CI 1.92–3.55, p < 0.0001). Among head injury patients, the odds of prehospital mortality were higher with unintentional injuries.
Head injuries are the most common causes of prehospital death in Malawi, while pedestrians hit by vehicles are the most common mechanisms. In a resource-poor setting, preventive measures are critical in averting mortality.
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