Assessment of Surgical and Trauma Capacity in Potosí, Bolivia

Kevin J. Blair*, Marissa A. Boeck, José Luis Gallardo Barrientos, José Luis Hidalgo López, Irene B. Helenowski, Benedict C. Nwomeh, Michael B. Shapiro, Mamta Swaroop

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Scaling up surgical and trauma care in low- and middle-income countries could prevent nearly 2 million annual deaths. Various survey instruments exist to measure surgical and trauma capacity, including Personnel, Infrastructure, Procedures, Equipment, and Supplies (PIPES) and International Assessment of Capacity for Trauma (INTACT). Objective We sought to evaluate surgical and trauma capacity in the Bolivian department of Potosí using a combined PIPES and INTACT tool, with additional questions to further inform intervention targets. Methods In June and July 2014 a combined PIPES and INTACT survey was administered to 20 government facilities in Potosí with a minimum of 1 operating room: 2 third-level, 10 second-level, and 8 first-level facilities. A surgeon, head physician, director, or obstetrician-gynecologist completed the survey. Additional personnel responded to 4 short-answer questions. Survey items were divided into subsections, and PIPES and INTACT indices calculated. Medians were compared via Wilcoxon rank sum and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Findings Six of 20 facilities were located in the capital city and designated urban. Urban establishments had higher median PIPES (8.5 vs 6.7, P =.11) and INTACT (8.5 vs 6.9, P =.16) indices compared with rural. More than half of surgeons and anesthesiologists worked in urban hospitals. Urban facilities had higher median infrastructure and procedure scores compared with rural. Fifty-three individuals completed short-answer questions. Training was most desired in laparoscopic surgery and trauma management; less than half of establishments reported staff with trauma training. Conclusions Surgical and trauma capacity in Potosí was most limited in personnel, infrastructure, and procedures at rural facilities, with greater personnel deficiencies than previously reported. Interventions should focus on increasing the number of surgical and anesthesia personnel in rural areas, with a particular focus on the reported desire for trauma management training. Results have been made available to key stakeholders in Potosí to inform targeted quality improvement interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-273
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of global health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Bolivia
  • Latin America
  • essential surgery
  • global surgery
  • surgical capacity
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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