Nevin Manimala Statistics

Factors associated with delayed reporting for surgical care among patients with surgical acute abdomen attended at Muhimbili National Hospital: Tanzania

BMC Gastroenterol. 2023 Mar 8;23(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s12876-023-02659-w.


BACKGROUND: Surgical acute abdomen is a sudden onset of severe abdominal symptoms (pain, vomiting, constipation etc.) indicative of a possible life-threatening intra-abdominal pathology, with most cases requiring immediate surgical intervention. Most studies from developing countries have focused on complications related to delayed diagnosis of specific abdominal problems like intestinal obstruction or acute appendicitis and only a few studies have assessed factors related to the delay in patients with acute abdomen. This study focused on the time from the onset of a surgical acute abdomen to presentation to determine factors that led to delayed reporting among these patients at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and aimed to close the knowledge gap on the incidence, presentation, etiology, and death rates for acute abdomen in Tanzania.

METHODS: We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study at MNH, Tanzania. Patients with a clinical diagnosis of the surgical acute abdomen were consecutively enrolled in the study over a period of 6 months and data on the onset of symptoms, time of presentation to the hospital, and events during the illness were collected.

RESULTS: Age was significantly associated with delayed hospital presentation, with older groups presenting later than younger ones. Informal education and being uneducated were factors contributing to delayed presentation, while educated groups presented early, albeit the difference was statistically insignificant (p = 0.121). Patients working in the government sector had the lowest percentage of delayed presentation compared to those in the private sector and self-employed individuals, however, the difference was statistically insignificant. Family and cohabiting individuals showed late presentation (p = 0.03). Deficiencies in health care staff on duty, unfamiliarity with the medical facilities, and low experience in dealing with emergency cases were associated with the factors for delayed surgical care among patients. Delays in the presentation to the hospital increased mortality and morbidity, especially among patients who needed emergency surgical care.

CONCLUSION: Delayed reporting for surgical care among patients with surgical acute abdomen in underdeveloped countries like Tanzania is often not due to a single reason. The causes are distributed across several levels including the patient’s age and family, deficiency in medical staff on duty and lack of experience in dealing with emergency cases, educational level, working sectors, socioeconomic and sociocultural status of the country.

PMID:36890435 | DOI:10.1186/s12876-023-02659-w

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