Trauma registries as a potential source of border epidemiology work group indicator data

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Nickalos A. Rocha
Alberto G. Mata, Jr.
Alan H. Tyroch
Susan Mclean
Lois Blough


Drug abuse problems in U.S.-Mexico border colllmunities are largely defined as drug trafficking problems. Thus, the measured response remains one thai is couched within criminal justice perspectives instead of social service or treatment initiatives. There is a clear need for data and data systems that altend 10 the major aspects of drug usc, drug abuse vulnerability, and health & social consequences in borderland communities. In Texas. the Trauma Registries system (TR) has been established for nearly a decade and a half. Data for this presentation covers the last five years. As in other pans of the nation, Texas hospitals' emergency care systems have come to use TR: I) to measure the quality of trauma care and to evaluate the effectiveness on health outcome; 2) to serve as a data source for injury surveillance; and 3) to measure costs of trauma care by hospitals and ERs. In terms of substance abuse surveillance and monitoring purposes, for the U.S.-Mexico Border region, all hospital TRs have important potential for measuring drug and alcohol health consequences. The data collected varies by TR, hut they usually include patient demographics, injury severity. medical care procedures. henlth outcome, and medic'll costs. Most of the state's hospitals nlready repon alcohol - few repon drug abuse data. All ERs could collect and repon drug abuse by patients entering Emergency Rooms. hut most do not! Border communities' public health drug abuse concerns nnd issues need to be key components of u.s. national and internmional drug ahuse monitoring and surveillnnec systems. Outside of symbolic nnd courtesy visits, systematic substantive sustained public health and community capacity building effons on the U.S.-Mexico Border remain outside nmional, state and third sector policymakers planning nnd programming effons. With occasional episodic and passing public health and community capacity building. one's community concerns and issues about border communities drug abuse problems remain largely missing from federal national drug abuse surveillance systems and unattended in state block grants or in discretionary programs. Collection, reponing and improving of these data would serve 10 assist policyrnakers and planners in addressing substance abuse as a more serious consequence of patients presenting 10 ERs. There exists bi-national potenlinl 10 collect, repon and assess the same health consequences in Mexico Ihat need to be explored by those working on the U.S.-Mexico drug ahuse policy control matters.

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