Background: Despite a significant burden of injury-related deaths, the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Bolivia), a lower- middle-income country in South America, lacks a formalized trauma system. This study sought to examine Bolivian trauma care from the patient perspective in order to determine barriers to care and targets for improvement. Methods: Investigators conducted 15 semi-structured interviews with trauma patients admitted at four hospitals in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia in June and July of 2016. Interviews were transcribed, translated, and analyzed through content and discourse analysis to identify key themes and perceptions of trauma care. Results: Participants primarily presented with orthopedic injuries due to road traffic incidents and falls. Only one participant reported receiving first aid from a layperson at the scene of injury. Of the 15 participants, 12 did not know any number to contact emergency medical services (EMS). Participants expressed negative views of EMS as well as concerns for slow response times and inadequate personnel and training. Two thirds of participants were initially brought to a hospital without adequate resources to care for their injuries. Participants generally expressed positive views regarding healthcare workers involved in their hospital-based medical care. Conclusions: This region of Bolivia has a disorganized, underutilized, and distrusted trauma system. In order to increase survival, interventions should focus on improving prehospital trauma care. Potential interventions include the implementation of layperson trauma first responder courses, the establishment of a medical emergency hotline, the unification of EMS, the implementation of basic training requirements for EMS personnel, and public education campaigns to increase trust in EMS.
- Emergency medical services (EMS)
- Global health
- Low- and middle-income country (LMIC)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine