Current trauma care system in Saudi Arabia: A scoping literature review Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    Trauma is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with millions of people dying each year, particularly in low or middle-income countries. This paper describes and evaluates the current trauma system (TS) in Saudi Arabia (SA).


    A scoping literature review was performed, incorporating an extensive search of Medline and Embase databases for refereed literature, as well as a search of grey literature to locate unpublished articles or reports in English or Arabic. All publications were assessed against the World Health Organization (WHO) Trauma System Maturity Index (TSMI) and American College of Surgeon's (ACS) criteria.


    Despite local injury prevention efforts, Motor Vehicle Crashes (MVC) remain the primary cause of injuries in SA. Prehospital trauma care in SA aligns with level III care as described in the WHO TSMI classification system, based on the presence of formal emergency medical services and universal access to care. With respect to the ACS classification, no clear written guidelines, either for field triage or trauma destination protocols such as trauma bypass, were identified in prehospital trauma care. The role of secondary and tertiary facilities in treating trauma patients is unclear, with no clear referral linkages, suggesting a level I to III grading of SA's trauma care facilities. Currently, there is no national or regional electronic trauma registry, no quality assurance program, and active involvement in research projects related to injuries is limited.


    The current SA TS has strengths but there are key features missing in comparison to other systems globally. As MVCs remain a leading cause of death/ disability, efforts to reduce the prevalence and impact of MVC burden in SA through development of a stronger national TS are warranted.

publication date

  • 2020