Latest trauma management information published

8 Nov 2013 | Health Quality Intelligence

The Health Quality & Safety Commission has published information about the way district health boards (DHBs) are managing the treatment of major trauma-related injuries.

This set of information, known as a domain, is part of the Atlas of Healthcare Variation. It can be viewed on the Commission’s website at

The Atlas of Healthcare Variation aims to prompt discussion within the health and disability sector about unwarranted variation in the provision of health services, and to stimulate changes that lead to improvements.

Injury is the leading cause of lost years of life in people under aged 45, with car crashes and falls the major causes of injury in this country.  

Mr Ian Civil, Clinical Leader for the Major Trauma National Clinical Network, who chairs the Commission’s trauma Atlas group, says it is important DHBs understand how injury is being managed across New Zealand so they can better assess their own performance.

“Having this type of information helps us see the big picture and make changes where needed in order to improve the consistency, quality and access to treatment,” he says.

Injury is defined as physical trauma and excludes such things as poisoning, hanging and drowning. 

Mr Civil says people seriously injured have the best chance of making a full recovery if New Zealand’s trauma care system performs at its peak.

Compared with other countries, New Zealand’s rate of deaths from injury is at the lower end of the range. No significant variations in death rates were reported between DHBs

In 2012 the Ministry of Health and the Accident Compensation Corporation established the Major Trauma National Clinical Network to ensure a consistent approach to providing trauma services across New Zealand. One of its first tasks has been to develop a national trauma database called the New Zealand Major Trauma Registry.

The information in this Atlas domain about major trauma is drawn from available data in that registry, as well as the National Minimum Dataset.

Key findings include:

  • according to the National Minimum Dataset, the mean injury rate in New Zealand was 6.5 injuries per 1000 people.  Injury numbers peaked in people aged 0 to 24, and again from age 65 and over.   The injury rate in older people (aged 65 plus) was double that of the rate for people aged 25 to 64
  • about 200 people a year die in hospital following admission for a major trauma injury.  People aged 65 and over were more likely to die in these circumstances
  • according to the New Zealand Major Trauma Registry, 70 percent of admissions for major trauma were males
  • according to available data from the New Zealand Major Trauma Registry on average nationally, 31 percent of major trauma cases arrived at hospital less than an hour after the injury occurred, with 73 percent arriving within three hours, and the majority of trauma cases (86 percent) arriving at hospital within six hours of the injury.

Injury and mortality data by DHB is available on Otago University’s website, through its Injury Prevention Research Unit’s pages:

Mr Civil says the domain information will be widely circulated to DHBs and he hopes it will encourage discussion about the availability of trauma data and whether trauma services here need to improve.

Download a copy of the questions and answers relating to this domain here.

Last updated 02/12/2013