Sydney Morning Herald - Thursday 2 March, 2006

Surgeons want national injury register

Australia's top trauma surgeons want the private sector to fund a national injury register after accusing the Commonwealth of ignoring their pleas. 

Professor Danny Cass, chairman of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons trauma committee, says current trauma treatment practices are not working effectively.

He says they will struggle to improve, and lives will be lost unnecessarily, until a national register is established.  
Prof Cass issued a statement to accompany the release of his committee's own injury report, using 2003 statistics.  

"The only way we can save more lives is to have a national trauma registry which will give us information about the type of injury, how effectively we are treating it and where we need to make improvements," he said.

"Frankly we are operating in the dark. This ought to be a national priority and it is alarming that we don't have the most basic information."

Prof Cass said trauma surgeons had no idea how they were doing on an international scale, so didn't know whether what they were are doing was working well.

"Successive federal governments have ignored our calls for a national registry which is just stupid when recent multiple fatalities show that our current practices are not working effectively - we must do better," he said.

"We are now looking in the commercial sector for help in this important national project."  

Prof Cass said the lives of some of the 1,600 people who die in road accidents in 2005 could have been saved if surgeons had been able to assess treatment practices through a national injury register.

Australia was falling behind the rest of the world in its ability to reduce death from traumatic injuries, he said.  

The surgeons say their report is the second such survey since their first in 2001.  

The national report of 2003 injuries shows that of the 5,837 people with severe traumatic injuries, 72 per cent of them were male.

Pedestrians were more likely to die in hospital than other trauma victims, and 49 per cent of patients who did not survive to hospital discharge usually died on day five.

The report said 15 per cent of trauma patients died in hospital, and road accidents accounted for 54 per cent of all major injuries.

Prof Cass said there was an urgent need to begin reducing traumatic injury as well as providing more support for injured patients.

"The only way we can start doing this is to start getting some basic information on a national scale," Prof Cass added.  

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