Secondary Overtriage of Trauma Patients to a Central Hospital in Malawi


Secondary Overtriage of Trauma Patients to a Central Hospital in Malawi


Rebecca G. Maine, Chifundo Kajombo, Gift Mulima, Jennifer Kincaid, Laura Purcell, Jared R. Gallaher, Trista D. Reid & Anthony G. Charles 



Secondary overtriage (OT) is the unnecessary transfer of injured patients between facilities. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which shoulder the greatest burden of trauma globally, the impact of wasted resources on an overburdened system is high. This study determined the rate and associated characteristics of OT at a Malawian central hospital.


A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from January 2012 through July 2017 was performed at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, Malawi. Patients were considered OT if they were discharged alive within 48 h without undergoing a procedure, and were not severely injured or in shock on arrival. Factors evaluated for association with OT included patient demographics, injury characteristics, and transferring facility information.


Of 80,915 KCH trauma patients, 15,422 (19.1%) transferred from another facility. Of these, 8703 (56.2%) were OT. OT patients were younger (median 15, IQR: 6–31 versus median 26, IQR: 11–38, p < 0.001). Patients with primary extremity injury (5308, 59.9%) were overtriaged more than those with head injury (1991, 51.8%) or torso trauma (1349, 50.8%), p < 0.001. The OT rate was lower at night (18.9% v 28.7%, p < 0.001) and similar on weekends (20.4% v 21.8%, p = 0.03). OT was highest for penetrating wounds, bites, and falls; burns were the lowest. In multivariable modeling, risk of OT was greatest for burns and soft tissue injuries.


The majority of trauma patients who transfer to KCH are overtriaged. Implementation of transfer criteria, trauma protocols, and interhospital communication can mitigate the strain of OT in resource-limited settings.

Only units of this product remain
Year 2020
Language English
Format PDF
DOI 10.1007/s00268-020-05426-0