Second Assist - Improving Surgical Care in Developing Countries

What We Do — Current Projects

Second Assist co-founder and executive director, Dr. Catherine Juillard, is working with the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon and the Central Hospital of Yaoundé to collect data to better estimate the types and number of injuries occurring in Yaoundé, Cameroon's capital city. Second Assist is providing technical support for the institution of a trauma registry that will document the epidemiology of injuries seen at the capitol city's largest hospital. The results of this study will inform the Ministry of Health's policies for injury prevention and trauma care.

Second Assist is working with the WHO on a new project — developing and pilot testing a checklist for injured patients in emergency rooms around the world. Every year an estimated 5.8 million people die from injury and many more suffer chronic disability. We believe it is possible to substantially reduce that number. The WHO Patient Safety Programme recently developed a surgical safety checklist that was shown to reduce patient mortality and morbidity by over one-third. A trauma checklist has the potential to systematically prevent complications during the initial assessment and management of injured patients. While a checklist cannot replace the adequate training of medical staff, it can, as we saw with the surgical safety checklist, help clinicians remember items that are likely to be forgotten — much like an airplane pilot uses a checklist before takeoff and landing.

The WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and the WHO Patient Safety Programme are working with trauma experts from around the world to draft an initial trauma checklist and supporting manual. An international consultation with 28 experts from 16 different countries was held in October 2009 in Rio de Janeiro to develop the first draft of the WHO Trauma Care Checklist. A formal pilot study of the trauma checklist will be conducted before widespread dissemination and Second Assist has the opportunity to support the pilot testing of the WHO Trauma Care Checklist in several low- and middle-income countries. The goal of the trauma checklist will be to ensure that simple standards of care are applied to every patient, every time for severely injured patients around the world.

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