A qualitative assessment of Ukraine’s trauma system during the Russian conflict: experiences of volunteer healthcare providers

Lynn Lieberman Lawry*, Jessica Korona-Bailey, Luke Juman, Miranda Janvrin, Valentina Donici, Iurii Kychyn, John Maddox, Tracey Perez Koehlmoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is characterized by indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and clinics that have devastated the Ukrainian health system putting trauma care at risk. International healthcare providers responded to the need for help with the increasing numbers of trauma patients. We aimed to describe their experiences during the conflict to explore the gaps in systems and care for trauma patients to refine the Global Trauma System Evaluation Tool (G-TSET) tool. Methods: We conducted qualitative key informant interviews of healthcare providers and business and logistics experts who volunteered since February 2022. Respondents were recruited using purposive snow-ball sampling. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted virtually from January-March 2023 using a modified version of the G-TSET as an interview guide. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and deductive thematic content analysis was conducted using NVivo. Findings: We interviewed a total of 26 returned volunteers. Ukraine’s trauma system is outdated for both administrative and trauma response practices. Communication between levels of the patient evacuation process was a recurrent concern which relied on handwritten notes. Patient care was impacted by limited equipment resources, such as ventilators, and improper infection control procedures. Prehospital care was described as highly variable in terms of quality, while others witnessed limited or no prehospital care. The inability to adequately move patients to higher levels of care affected the quality of care. Infection control was a key issue at the hospital level where handwashing was not common. Structured guidelines for trauma response were lacking and lead to a lack of standardization of care and for trauma. Although training was desired, patient loads from the conflict prohibited the ability to participate. Rehabilitation care was stated to be limited. Conclusion: Standardizing the trauma care system to include guidelines, better training, improved prehospital care and transportation, and supply of equipment will address the most critical gaps in the trauma system. Rehabilitation services will be necessary as the conflict continues into its second year.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalConflict and Health
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conflict health
  • Emergency medical systems
  • Trauma systems
  • Ukraine

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