Trauma quality improvement: The Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service experience with the development of a comprehensive structure to facilitate quality improvement in rural trauma and acute care in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Damian Luiz Clarke


Improving the delivery of efficient and effective surgical care in rural South Africa is a mammoth task bedevilled by conflict between the stakeholders, who include rural doctors, surgeons, ancillary staff, researchers, educators and administrators. Management training is not part of most medical school curricula, yet as they progress in their careers, many clinicians are required to manage a health system and find the shift from caring for individual patients to managing a complex system difficult. Conflict arises when management-type interventions are imposed in a top-down manner on surgical staff suspicious of an unfamiliar field of study. Another area of conflict concerns the place of surgical research. Researchers are often accused of not being sufficiently focused on or concerned about the tasks of service delivery. This article provides an overview of management theory and describes a comprehensive management structure that integrates a model for health systems with a strategic planning process, strategic planning tools and appropriate quality metrics, and shows how the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, successfully used this structure to facilitate and contextualise a diverse number of quality improvement programmes and research initiatives in the realm of rural acute surgery and trauma. We have found this structure to be useful, and hope that it may be applied to other acute healthcare systems.

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Damian Luiz Clarke, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Trauma; Quality improvement; Healthcare system

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(2):92-95. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8792

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-08-11
Date published: 2015-01-03

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