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Coordinated Trauma Care First In The Waikato

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For immediate release

Date: September 22, 2008

Coordinated Trauma Care Happening First In The Waikato

Health Waikato will lead out a new system for delivering trauma care to the rest of the Midland region next year.

The model, led by Waikato Hospital director of trauma Grant Christey, is a holistic and multidisciplinary one that takes care of the complex needs of trauma patients and their families.

Ultimately, each tertiary hospital within the Midland region will have a full-time trauma nurse co-ordinator and consultant to oversee clinical work and data quality.

"This project is 100 per cent patient focused and allows us to use all the excellent resources we have within the Midland region to make a difference in the delivery of trauma care to our patients," said Mr Christey.

Under the traditional system, trauma patients are cared for under a surgical service dependant on their most significant anatomical injury.

Patients with severe or multiple injuries require a more comprehensive approach. The trauma service provides an overview and ensures that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

"The current system is certainly less than desirable, as it has been shown for many years that co-ordination of care for multiple injury patients has great benefits," said Mr Christey.

"International research shows that people with major injuries are particularly vulnerable to time delays and deficits in decision-making, and demand specialised and co-ordinated care

"So many things can go wrong; these patients can have hidden injuries, require intensive rehabilitation, can be psychologically, financially and socially affected and their treatment is heavily time dependant, among many other complicated factors.

"You have to deliver a very high quality service in a very limited timeframe."

Waikato Hospital has been operating under this system for the past two years and has compelling data to prove its worth.

The mortality rate for severely injured patients treated at Waikato has decreased from 15.6 per cent to 8.4 per cent in that time - a difference of about 14 lives per year.

"A credit to all those who are involved in the management of major trauma patients, not just the trauma service."

He said the system is an amalgamation of the work he has been doing here in New Zealand and studying it in its maturity overseas for the past 10 years.

"Since 2006, we have been gathering data and information; we have done over 30,000 needs reviews and have data on every single trauma patient to have come through Waikato since then, which is more than 4000 patients."

There are three components to the revamped service under development: enhancing clinical care of trauma patients on a daily basis, finding room for improvement in systems and providing high-quality data for long-term resource planning.

The new model will begin as a Midland Regional Trauma System, and then roll out to individual hospitals within the Midlands to manage.

Funding for the project comes from the Midland region DHBs whose chief executives, chairs and chief medical advisors are supportive of the change.

We hope that this type of system may eventually operate in the rest of New Zealand as well," said Mr Christey.

Recruitment, training and education will take place later this year with the new system operational in early 2009.


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