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Afr Health Sci. 2012 Dec;12(4):530-7.

Epidemiology of death in the emergency department of a tertiary health centre south-south of Nigeria.

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Department of Surgery University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar Nigeria.



The emergency department (E.D) of any hospital is an important entry point of critically ill patients. The initial management of these patients is often challenging, and for valuable lives to be saved, the in fracture and manpower should be up to date.


To analyze the epidemiology of death in our Emergency Department within 72hours after admission, the death rate, and to establish any contributory factors.


Demographic data, time of arrival at the ED, physical finding, the Glasgow coma scale(GCS), the injury severity score(ISS), the diagnosis, investigations done, treatment offered, the time of death and the autopsy report, were entered into a Proforma. These data was analyzed using EPI-Info statistical programme version 3.4.3 of 2007.


Four thousand and eleven (4,011) patients were seen in the E.D during the period. A total of three hundred and fifty five (355) mortalities were recorded. Their ages ranged from 4-87years, with an average of 34.5years. The male: female ratio was 2.1:1. The overall mortality in the hospital during the period was 859: the E.D mortality figure representing 41.3%. Fifteen patients were brought in dead. The 355 deaths fell into two categories: trauma and non-trauma. One hundred and forty-seven (41.4%) persons died from trauma; road traffic accidents (RTAs) accounting for 118 (80.3%). Two hundred and eight (58.6%) persons died from nontrauma related causes, with chronic cardiovascular disorders been the most frequent cause of death 52[25.0]. Majority of the mortalities were between 26-50 years age range. 86.2% of the mortalities presented late, greater than 6hours after the incidence. Within the 72 hours period, only 129(36.3%) were able to do the requested tests. Out of the 355 deaths, only 4[1.1%] were autopsied. An in-hospital 72hours death rate of 8.6 was recorded.


Road traffic accidents and cardiovascular disorders are the common causes of emergency death in UCTH. A recorded death rate of 8.6% is high, suspected contributory factors include systemic deficiencies such as the lack of a trauma system, prehospital care; late presentation, the role of chemist operators, traditional healers, and delayed referral systems.


Epidemiology of death; emergency department; tertiary health centre

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