Research

Locked down: Impact of COVID-19 restrictions on trauma presentations to the emergency department

A Venter, C M Lewis, P Saffy, L P Chadinha

Abstract


Background. COVID-19 was recognised as a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. In South Africa (SA), a nationwide lockdown was implemented at midnight on 26 March to prepare for the predicted surge and slow the spread of the virus.

Objectives. To compare the volume and type of presentations of trauma secondary to interpersonal violence and road traffic collisions (RTCs) during two 5-month periods, from February to June 2019 and 2020, in the emergency department (ED) of an academic tertiary hospital in Gauteng Province, SA. In 2020, February - June included the lockdown period.

Methods. An observational retrospective audit of the patient register at the Helen Joseph Hospital ED was conducted, comparing the number of trauma presentations secondary to interpersonal violence (assaults with gunshot wounds, general assaults including mob assaults, assaults with stab wounds) and RTC presentations between February and June 2019 and 2020.

Results. A total of 4 300 trauma presentations secondary to interpersonal violence and RTCs were noted in the 5-month period February - June 2019, as opposed to 3 239 presentations in February - June 2020 (25% decline). A 40% decline in the number of RTCs, from 1 704 in February - June 2019 to 1 026 in the corresponding period for 2020, was noted and found to be statistically significant (p=0.03). Declines in the volume of trauma cases secondary to interpersonal violence and of overall trauma cases were only directional in favour of 2020, but not statistically significant.

Conclusions. The volume of trauma presentations secondary to interpersonal violence and RTCs in the Helen Joseph Hospital ED decreased during the lockdown period. The decline in the volume of RTCs was statistically significant, but declines in the volume of trauma presentations secondary to interpersonal violence and in the volume of overall trauma presentations were not.


Authors' affiliations

A Venter, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

C M Lewis, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

P Saffy, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L P Chadinha, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Full Text

PDF (205KB)

Keywords

Covid-19; Lockdown; Road traffic collisions; Interpersonal violence

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(1):52-56. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i1.15289

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-12-04
Date published: 2020-12-04

Article Views

Abstract views: 1704
Full text views: 848

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here