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The Commission’s trauma programme improves health outcomes for New Zealanders after serious injury

National Trauma Network
13 March 2023

Over 2,400 New Zealanders experience major trauma each year in Aotearoa New Zealand. These serious injuries are commonly transport related, such as car or motorcycle crashes, or caused by falls. Injuries are often life threatening, and recovery relies on receiving high-quality acute care and rehabilitation. The Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission) trauma programme is a partnership with the National Trauma Network and the Accident Compensation Corporation, that aims to establish a contemporary system of trauma care in Aotearoa New Zealand.

National critical haemorrhage project

The trauma programme’s work over the past 3 years has saved lives. Our national critical haemorrhage project has resulted in fewer New Zealanders dying from major haemorrhage (bleeding) after being admitted to hospital following trauma. Since the national best practice bundle of care was published in December 2020, more Aotearoa New Zealand hospitals have a formal protocol in place to make sure that someone who is critically bleeding receives life-saving treatment quickly.

Quality improvement projects for trauma rehabilitation teams

During 2021 and 2022, the Commission worked with teams of health professionals across Aotearoa New Zealand, supporting them with projects that would improve trauma rehabilitation for people in their communities. These projects have led to better access to early rehabilitation, updated patient information resources in hospitals and improved collaboration between community health providers and inpatient services. Case studies of these successful quality improvement projects have been published to share the knowledge gained with other health professionals around Aotearoa New Zealand.

National guidance for hospitals admitting people with severe traumatic brain injuries

Over 30 percent of people experiencing major trauma have a serious traumatic brain injury. The consequences of this can be long lasting and significant for individuals and their whānau. Being treated in a hospital that has specialist neuroscience capability has been shown to improve outcomes for people with the most severe brain injuries. This is why the Commission has developed national guidance for Aotearoa New Zealand hospitals stating that people with severe traumatic brain injuries who are initially admitted to hospitals without neuroscience capability should be transferred within 24 hours. The guidance has been distributed to trauma teams across Aotearoa New Zealand for consultation.

Improving the process of screening for post-traumatic amnesia

All people admitted to hospital following major trauma should be assessed for post-traumatic amnesia before they are discharged. This screening picks up whether someone has had a brain injury, meaning they can access the rehabilitation they need. Through the serious traumatic brain injury national collaborative, the Commission is working with hospital teams to improve the way people are screened for post-traumatic amnesia after a major injury.