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Trop Doct. 2013 Jan;43(1):27-9. doi: 10.1177/0049475513480773. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

The burden of surgical diseases on critical care services at a tertiary hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Department of Surgery, University of Rochester, USA.


In many developing countries, including those of sub-Saharan Africa, care of the critically ill is poorly developed. We sought to elucidate the characteristics and outcomes of critically ill patients in order to better define the burden of disease and identify strategies for improving care. We conducted a cross sectional observation study of patients admitted to the intensive care unit at Kamuzu Central Hospital in 2010. Demographics, patient characteristics, clinical specialty and outcome data was collected for the 234 patients admitted during the study period. Older age and admission from trauma, general surgery or medical services were associated with increased mortality. The lowest mortality was among obstetrical and gynaecology patients. Use of the ventilator and transfusions were not associated with increased mortality. Patients with head injuries had the highest mortality rate. Rationing of critical care resources, using admitting diagnosis or scoring tools, can maximize access to critical care services in resource-limited settings. Furthermore, improvements of critical care services will be central to future efforts to reduce surgical morbidity and mortality and improving outcomes in all critically ill patients.

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