Geriatric injuries among patients attending a regional hospital in Shinyanga Tanzania
Geriatric injuries pose a major challenge to surgeons and general practitioners practicing in developing countries. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, injury characteristics and outcome of geriatric injury among patients at Shinyanga Regional Hospital in Tanzania. Data was collected using a pre-tested, coded questionnaire and analyzed using SPSS computer system. A total of 94 geriatric trauma patients constituting 22.7% of all trauma admissions were studied. The male to female ratio was 1.4:1. Their mean age was 68.5 years (ranged 60-98 years). Premorbid illness was reported in 38.3% of patients. Most injuries were intentional in fifty-three (56.4%) patients. Assaults, falls and road traffic crashes were the most common mechanism of injuries in 52.1%, 19.1% and 11.7% of cases, respectively. The majority of cases of assault were females accounting for 64.6%. The majority of injuries (81.9%) occurred at home. Pre-hospital care was recorded in 5.3% of cases. The musculoskeletal (72.3%) and head (66.0%) regions were commonly affected. Soft tissue injuries (wounds) (89.4%) and fractures (52.2%) were the most common type of injuries. The majority of patients (90.4%) underwent surgical treatment of which wound debridement was the most common procedure performed in 91.8% of cases. Complication rate was 39.4%. The mean length of hospital stay was 28.6 days (ranged 1 – 124 days). The length of hospital stay was significantly longer in patients with co-morbidities, long bone fractures and those with complications (P<0.05). Mortality rate was 14.9% and it was significantly related to advanced age, presence of pre-morbid illness, high injury severity score, severe head injuries and the need for ventilatory support (P< 0.05).Traumatic injuries in elderly constitute a major but preventable public health problem in Shinyanga region and contribute significantly to high morbidity and mortality. Urgent preventive measures focusing at the root causes of the injuries and early appropriate treatment is highly needed to reduce the occurrence, morbidity and mortality associated with these injuries.