Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 May 2019
On February 6, 2018, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Hualien, the eastern part of Taiwan. The quake resulted in 17 deaths and more than 300 people injured. Four buildings completely collapsed and hundreds of houses were damaged.
The aim of this research was to use the patient data to analyze the reasons for visits, the trauma sites, and the severity.
We obtained the patient information from the Taiwan Eastern Medical Emergency Operation Center. Medical records were reviewed to analyze the primary diagnosis, the trauma mechanisms, and the sites of injury. Injury severity score (ISS) was used to assess trauma severity.
Two hundred and eighty patients were included in the study, with 90.3% being traumatic patients. Among them, 18.2% was geriatric trauma, 4.7% was pediatric trauma, and 0.4% was obstetric trauma. The most common injury site was lower extremities (33.2%), followed by head (31.4%) and upper extremities (27.1%). The mean injury severity score (ISS) was 1.9. The geriatric population had an average ISS of 2.4, and the pediatric group had a mean ISS of 1.2.
In our study, the majority of the patients had minor trauma. Lower extremities may be more vulnerable during the evacuation of an earthquake, and thus, became the most common injury site. The elderly patients had a higher ISS, which may be explained by their immobility and fragility of the body. In the future, it is critical to educate citizens about self-protection during earthquakes, focusing on protecting the head and the extremities. Healthcare providers and emergency medical technicians need to be well-trained to handle geriatric trauma since it poses unique challenges and is associated with increased mortality.