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Evolution of Operative Interventions by Two University-Based Surgical Teams in Haiti during the First Month following the Earthquake

  • Babak Sarani (a1), Samir Mehta (a2), Michael Ashburn (a3), Rajan Gupta (a4), Derek Dombroski (a2), Maxi Raymonville (a5) and C. William Schwab (a1)...


Background: The earthquake that struck Haiti on 10 January 2010, killed 200,000 persons and injured thousands more. Working with Partners in Health, a non-governmental organization already present in Haiti, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania sent multidisciplinary surgical teams to hospitals in the villages of Hinche and Cange. The purpose of this report is to describe the injuries seen and evolution of treatments rendered at these two outlying regional hospitals during the first month following the earthquake.

Methods: A retrospective review of the database maintained by each team was performed. In addition to a list of equipment taken to Haiti, information collected included patient age, American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) physical status, injuries sustained, procedures performed, wound management strategy, antibiotic therapy, and early outcomes.

Results: A total of 113 surgical procedures were performed in 15 days by both teams. The average patient age was 25 years and average ASA score was 1.4. The majority of injuries involved large soft tissue wounds and closed fractures, although 21–40% of the patients at each hospital had either an open fracture or amputation wound. Initially, wound debridement was the most common procedure performed, but after two weeks, skin grafting, fracture fixation, and amputation revision were the more commonly needed operations.

Conclusions: Academic surgical teams can ameliorate the morbidity and mortality following disasters caused by natural hazards by partnering with organizations that already have a presence in the affected region. A multidisciplinary team of surgeons and nurses can improve both mortality and morbidity following a disaster.


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Babak Sarani, MD, FACSAssistant Professor of Surgery3400 Spruce Street, 5 MaloneyPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania 19104 USA E-mail:


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Zarocostas, J: Death toll in Haiti may reach 200,000. BMJ 2010;340:c331
Pape, JW, Johnson, W, Fitzgerald, D: The earthquake in Haiti—Dispatch from Port-au-Prince. N Engl J Med 2010;362:575577
Ginzburg, E, O'Neil, W, Goldschmidt-Clermont, P, et al: Rapid medical relief—Project Medishare and the Haitian earthquake. N Engl J Med 2010;362:e31.
Yuanfeng, L, Pan, F, Yufeng, L: Analysis of rehabilitation needs, measures taken, and their effectiveness for the wounded following the Wenchuan Earthquake. J Evidence-Based Med 2009;2:258264.



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