Nobody will ever be entirely sure how many lives will be saved by the trauma database due to be introduced in all hospitals in Abu Dhabi emirate by the end of this year.
The only certainty is that the information about each patient – including the severity and cause of the injury, and when and where it was sustained – will save lives by identifying the causes of accidents and allowing them to be prevented.
This is a significant step forward. Too often around the world, the limited resources available to emergency services restrict their role to a reactive one – literally the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, dealing with the result of accidents – rather than being proactive and preventing them occurring in the first place.
The word “accidents” is the key one for people like Norman Avila, the trauma programme manager at Al Rahba Hospital, where a pioneering version of the trauma registry has been in place since 2010.
“We will know what, when and how people in the region are getting hurt,” he said. “If we know these facts, we’ll know how to prevent injuries. This is the main thing. Accidents are 100 per cent preventable.”
Similar small-scale data mining operations previously have helped identify the risk of heat stroke among labourers in summer, leading to the compulsory midday break, and identified road accident black spots in Al Ain so traffic safety initiatives can be better focussed.
With comprehensive data collection, those benefits will be enhanced.
The information will also be able to improve the quality of hospital care by comparing outcomes for patients at different hospitals. The methods used by hospitals with better outcomes can be adopted by other hospitals to improve the standard of care for everyone.
All the indications are that investing in this kind of database pays for itself in the accidents that are prevented and the medical practices that are improved.
Underpinning all this is the human cost of these accidents, with families throughout Abu Dhabi spared the heartbreak of learning that a loved one has been killed or injured.
Of course, none of these families will realise that the trauma database being implemented directly prevented an accident to someone they know. Instead we can all be grateful as a community for a safer place to live and work.