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Hospitals improve trauma care…online


21 August, 2007  

The Trauma Audit & Research Network based at the University of Manchester is launching a unique website today to help hospitals improve their trauma care and see how they compare to their peers. See www.tarn.ac.uk.

Traumatic injuries from serious incidents such as road accidents and violent altercations are the biggest cause of death and disability in people aged less than 44 in the UK. Trauma is also the most costly “disease”, affecting mostly children and young people who are then in need of care and unable to work for many years  and therefore costs society more than cancer and heart disease. Every year 10,000 mainly young people die as a result of injury with double the number severely disabled for life – the equivalent of two plane crashes every week. This costs the NHS 1.6 billion every year but most of the costs to society are outside healthcare, they result from lost earning through premature death, disability and lifelong care.

The Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) – founded by The University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – helps hospitals to collect and evaluate data on their trauma care (treatment of serious injuries such as head injuries, chest injuries and broken limbs) and how they rate in comparison with other Trusts. It then advises their NHS Trusts on how the care could be improved.

Executive director Maralyn Woodford said: “TARN was founded in 1989 when research by Professor Sir Miles Irving in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons showed that there were preventable trauma deaths in the UK. I worked on that report and it was thought then that death could have been prevented in one third of injured patients reaching hospital alive. The group then worked with 14 NHS Trusts in the North West before offering the programme to Trusts in the rest of the country. The Trusts take part voluntarily and pay a fee to the group to carry out the work. This website helps doctors and managers to review their trauma care and make changes if required.”

For the past three years TARN has been developing this website for Trusts and patient groups to be able to monitor performance, as well as expanding its work to cover paediatric trauma care (TARNLet) and Europe (EuroTARN).

The Healthcare Commission’s Annual Health Check includes an assessment of Department of Health Standards. Core standard C5d expects clinicians to take part in clinical audit. Jonathan Boyce, from the Healthcare Commission, said: “Hospitals vary in their success in dealing with major trauma. Information like this must be designed by the doctors and nurses at the sharp end of care. This is essential knowledge if we are to find problem areas and improve results overall.”