Road traffic crashes (RTC) and consequent injuries constitute a global threat to public health disproportionately borne by low-and-middle-income countries. With rapid urbanisation and increased motorisation, RTC is identified as one of the leading causes of death and injury in Sri Lanka.
This study aimed to describe crash characteristics and patterns of injury among victims of RTCs admitted to a tertiary-care state hospital in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Recorded data on all victims of RTCs admitted to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital from 01.01.2017 to 31.03.2017 were systematically extracted and analysed.
Of the 573 victims, 468 (82%) were males and 47% were aged 21–40 years (overall range: five months to 90 years). Almost half the victims (49%) were motorcyclists or pillion riders, and pedestrians and three-wheeled vehicle occupants contributed a further 21% each. Higher proportions of crashes occurred between 12 noon to 3 pm (19%) and 6 pm to 9 pm (19%). The lower and upper limbs (55%) and head/face/neck (34%) were the commonest body regions injured. Abrasions/contusions/lacerations (74%) and fractures (32%) were the commonest types of injuries sustained. Eight percent of abdomino-pelvic injuries presented with internal bleeding and 7% of head injuries presented with intra-cranial bleeding. The in-hospital case-fatality was 3% (n=17). The mean and median lengths of hospital stay were 2.6 and 1 days, respectively (range: one to 37 days). At discharge, 38% of patients had significant disabilities or restrictions in function with recommended on-going care through rehabilitation/physiotherapy or outpatient services.
The majority of RTC victims admitted to hospital were males, young adults, and people sustaining head and limb injuries and almost 40% required post-discharge health care. Victims were largely riders/occupants of 2–3 wheeled motor vehicles or pedestrians, indicating the critical need for national road safety initiatives that particularly focus on risks to these vulnerable road users.
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