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Media opportunity: Majority of pediatric deaths in Nova Scotia involve males in rural areas, with car crashes causing most of the pre‑hospital traumas: research study

Posted by Communications and Marketing on January 23, 2024 in News

More than 10 per cent of pediatric trauma victims in Nova Scotia die before reaching a hospital, according to a new study by researchers at Dalhousie University, the IWK and Trauma Nova Scotia that also found the majority of these deaths involve teenage males whose trauma was linked to a motor vehicle collision in a rural area.

The paper, published in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, examined the characteristics of trauma deaths for people under 18 in both pre-hospital and in-hospital settings from April 1, 2001 to March 31, 2018.

During that period, there were 1,258 such traumas, resulting in 217 deaths. Of those, 137 died prior to hospitalization and 80 died in hospital. Males accounted for almost 63 per cent of the fatalities, with most being between 15 and 17 years old. Many of the traumas occurred in rural areas.

Overall, patients who died pre-hospital were older, and a greater proportion of those deaths -- 23 per cent -- were due to intentional injuries.

The researchers also found significantly different rates of severe injuries and deaths across Nova Scotia. Notably, the rates of such injuries and pre-hospital deaths were higher in parts of Cape Breton, for example, versus those in Halifax and other counties in the province. The authors speculate that those rates are higher because of the distance to local hospitals and trauma centres, and the time it takes emergency services to reach patients.

Dr. Jason Emsley, an emergency physician, assistant professor at Dalhousie and medical director for the Pediatric Trauma Program at the IWK and Trauma Nova Scotia, is the senior author on this study, along with colleagues from Trauma Nova Scotia and Dr. Renee Kinden, an emergency medicine resident at Dalhousie.

Dr. Emsley, who is also the research director for the IWK Department of Emergency Medicine, is available to discuss the results and how they demonstrate the need for emergency personnel to consider geographical factors and injury patterns, while advocating for improved injury prevention programs, mental health supports and the delivery of on-scene critical-care services.


Media contact:

Alison Auld   
Senior Research Reporter   
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services   
Dalhousie University   
Cell: 1-902-220-0491   


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