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South African Family Practice

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Pattern of injuries suffered by the patients treated for alleged assault at Witbank General Hospital in MpumalangaPattern of injuries suffered by the patients treated for alleged assault at Witbank General Hospital in Mpumalanga

L Nkombua

Abstract




Background
Violence has been with us since time immemorial. In South Africa, violence plays a detrimental role in our daily lives, affecting almost everybody, directly or indirectly. This country experiences high levels of violence with incidents of violence being reported in the newspapers, on radio and television on a daily basis. In the author's personal experience as a Casualty Officer at Witbank General Hospital, a considerable number of patients, with assault related injuries ,were seen every day. The objectives of the study were to assess the demographic and social factors associated with assault incidents as well as to establish the type of injuries suffered by the victims of assault.

Method
A descriptive, cross-sectional survey. From 29th October 1999 to 1st May 2000, the patients who attended for injuries due to alleged assault (interpersonal violence) and met the inclusion criteria were included in the study. A total of 547 patients were selected as subjects of the study.

Setting
Witbank General Hospital Casualty Department (Mpumalanga Province)

Results
The majority of the victims were male 71, 8% (N=389), 69% (N=377) of the respondents were single and 91% (N=498) of them of African descent. The age group of most of them 86, 9% (N= 475) ranged between 17 and 45 years. They had injuries to more than one part of the body. Among the assaulted patients 86.6% (N=474) had more than one type of injury. The majority of the victims of assault 81.4% (N=445) were not admitted for in-hospital treatment.

Conclusion
The study revealed that at Witbank Hospital, a typical victim of assault was an African male between the age of 17 and 45 years. He had been attacked during the night or over the weekend. He had also probably been drinking. He would have suffered minor injuries mainly to the head and neck.


South African Family Practice Vol. 49 (10) 2007: pp. 14a-14d



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