Original Research

A silver bullet? The role of radiology information system data mining in defining gunshot injury trends at a South African tertiary-level hospital

Dale K. Creamer, Asif Bagadia, Clive Daniels, Richard D. Pitcher
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 25, No 1 | a2018 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v25i1.2018 | © 2021 Dale K. Creamer, Asif Bagadia, Clive Daniels, Richard D. Pitcher | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 October 2020 | Published: 02 March 2021

About the author(s)

Dale K. Creamer, Division of Radiodiagnosis, Department of Medical Imaging and Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Asif Bagadia, Division of Radiodiagnosis, Department of Medical Imaging and Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Tygerberg Hospital, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Clive Daniels, South African Health Informatics Association (SAHIA), Cape Town, South Africa; and Private Healthcare Information Standards Committee (PHISC), Cape Town, South Africa
Richard D. Pitcher, Division of Radiodiagnosis, Department of Medical Imaging and Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: South Africa (SA) has no national injury surveillance system, and hence, non-fatal gunshot injuries are not routinely recorded. Most firearm-related injuries require multi-detector computer tomography (MDCT) assessment at a tertiary-level facility. MDCT scanning for victims with gunshot injuries thus provide an indication of the societal burden of firearm trauma. The potential of the modern radiology information system (RIS) to serve as a robust research tool in such settings is not fully appreciated.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of institutional RIS data in defining MDCT scanning trends for gunshot victims presenting to a tertiary-level SA hospital.

Method: A single-institution, retrospective, comparative study was conducted at the Tygerberg Hospital (TBH) Trauma Unit for the years 2013 and 2018. Using data-mining software, customised RIS searches for information on all gunshot-related emergency computed tomography scans in the respective years were performed. Demographic, temporal, anatomical and scan-protocol trends were analysed by cross tabulation, Chi-squared and Fisher’s exact tests.

Results: Gunshot-related emergency MDCT scans increased by 62% (546 vs. 887) from 2013 to 2018. Lower-limb CT angiography was the commonest investigation in both periods. A higher proportion of victims in 2018 sustained thoracic injuries (12.5% vs. 19.8%; p < 0.01) and required imaging of more than two body parts (13.1% vs. 19.2%; p < 0.01).

Conclusion: By using RIS data to demonstrate the increasing gunshot-related MDCT workload in the review period, as well as a pattern of more complex and potentially life-threatening injury, this study highlights the burden of firearm trauma in the society and the potential role of the modern RIS as a robust research tool.


Keywords

RIS; radiology information system; trauma; gun-shot; computerised tomography; crime; violence; Cape Town.

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