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Predictors and outcome of time to presentation among critically ill paediatric patients at Emergency Department of Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

BMC Pediatr. 2022 Jul 22;22(1):441. doi: 10.1186/s12887-022-03503-y.


BACKGROUND: Mortality among under-five children in Tanzania remains high. While early presentation for treatment increases likelihood of survival, delays to care are common and factors causing delay to presentation among critically ill children are unknown. In this study delay was defined as presentation to the emergency department of tertially hospital i.e. Muhimbili National Hospital, more than 48 h from the onset of the index illness.

METHODOLOGY: This was a prospective cohort study of critically ill children aged 28 days to 14 years attending emergency department at Muhimbili National Hospital in Tanzania from September 2019 to January 2020. We documented demographics, time to ED presentation, ED interventions and 30-day outcome. The primary outcome was the association of delay with mortality and secondary outcomes were predictors of delay among critically ill paediatric patients. Logistic regression and relative risk were calculated to measure the strength of the predictor and the relationship between delay and mortality respectively.

RESULTS: We enrolled 440 (59.1%) critically ill children, their median age was 12 [IQR = 9-60] months and 63.9% were males. The median time to Emergency Department arrival was 3 days [IQR = 1-5] and more than half (56.6%) of critically ill children presented to Emergency Department in > 48 h whereby being an infant, self-referral and belonging to poor family were independent predictors of delay. Infants and those referred from other facilities had 2.4(95% CI 1.4-4.0) and 1.8(95% CI 1.1-2.8) times increased odds of presenting late to the Emergency Department respectively. The overall 30-day in-hospital mortality was 26.5% in which those who presented late were 1.3 more likely to die than those who presented early (RR = 1.3, CI: 0.9-1.9). Majority died > 24 h of Emergency Department arrival (P-value = 0.021).

CONCLUSION: The risk of in-hospital mortality among children who presented to the ED later than 48 h after onset of illness was 1.3 times higher than for children who presented earlier than 48 h. It could be anywhere from 10% lower to 90% higher than the point estimate. However, the effect size was statistically not significant since the confidence interval included the null value Qualitative and time-motion studies are needed to evaluate the care pathway of critically ill pediatric patients to identify preventable delays in care.

PMID:35864482 | DOI:10.1186/s12887-022-03503-y

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