Open Access Research article

Injury in China: a systematic review of injury surveillance studies conducted in Chinese hospital emergency departments

Michael Fitzharris12*, James Yu3, Naomi Hammond23, Colman Taylor2, Yangfeng Wu45, Simon Finfer26 and John Myburgh278

Author Affiliations

1 Accident Research Centre and Injury Outcomes Research Unit, Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

2 Critical Care and Trauma Division, The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia

3 Research and Development, The George Institute for Global Health, Beijing, China

4 Office of the Director, The George Institute for Global Health, Beijing, China

5 Peking University Clinical Research Institute, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China

6 Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

7 Faculty of Medicine, University of NSW, Sydney, Australia

8 Department of Intensive Care Medicine, St George Hospital, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2011, 11:18  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-11-18

Published: 26 October 2011



Injuries represent a significant and growing public health concern in China. This Review was conducted to document the characteristics of injured patients presenting to the emergency department of Chinese hospitals and to assess of the nature of information collected and reported in published surveillance studies.


A systematic search of MEDLINE and China Academic Journals supplemented with a hand search of journals was performed. Studies published in the period 1997 to 2007 were included and research published in Chinese was the focus. Search terms included emergency, injury, medical care.


Of the 268 studies identified, 13 were injury surveillance studies set in the emergency department. Nine were collaborative studies of which eight were prospective studies. Of the five single centre studies only one was of a prospective design. Transport, falls and industrial injuries were common mechanisms of injury. Study strengths were large patient sample sizes and for the collaborative studies a large number of participating hospitals. There was however limited use of internationally recognised injury classification and severity coding indices.


Despite the limited number of studies identified, the scope of each highlights the willingness and the capacity to conduct surveillance studies in the emergency department. This Review highlights the need for the adoption of standardized injury coding indices in the collection and reporting of patient health data. While high level injury surveillance systems focus on population-based priority setting, this Review demonstrates the need to establish an internationally comparable trauma registry that would permit monitoring of the trauma system and would by extension facilitate the optimal care of the injured patient through the development of informed quality assurance programs and the implementation of evidence-based health policy.