Violence and Injury Prevention

Guidelines for essential trauma care

The Guidelines for essential trauma care seek to set achievable standards for trauma treatment services which could realistically be made available to almost every injured person in the world. They then seek to define the resources that would be necessary to assure such care. These include human resources (staffing and training) and physical resources (infrastructure, equipment and supplies). By more clearly defining such services and resources, we hope these guidelines will facilitate the strengthening of trauma treatment services worldwide. The basic premise of these guidelines is that improvements in organization and planning can result in improvements in trauma treatment services and hence in the outcome of injured persons, with minimal increases in expenditures.

The authors of the guidelines have developed a series of resource tables for essential trauma care that detail the human and physical resources that should be in place to assure optimal care of the injured patient at the range of health facilities throughout the world, from rural health posts, to small hospitals staffed by general practitioners (such as district hospitals), to hospitals staffed by specialists (such as provincial hospitals), to tertiary care centres. They also take into account the varying resource availability across the spectrum of low- and middle-income countries. Finally, a series of recommendations is made on methods to promote such standards including training, quality improvement, trauma team organization and hospital inspection. The resource tables and associated recommendations are intended to provide a template to assist individual countries in organizing and strengthening their own trauma treatment systems.

These guidelines have already been put to use in several countries, being used as the basis for needs assessments that have helped to define priorities for affordable and sustainable improvements in trauma care. They have also been put to use in development of health policy.

The Guidelines for essential trauma care specifically focus on care delivered at fixed facilities (e.g. clinics and hospitals). There is a companion document, Prehospital trauma care systems which addresses prehospital trauma care at the scene and in route to fixed facilities.

Related links

Share