Operational factors affecting maternal mortality in Tanzania.
Identification of the main operational factors in cases of maternal death within and outside the health care system is necessary for safe motherhood programmes. In this study, a follow-up was done of all 117 cases of maternal deaths in Ilala district, Dar es Salaam, 1991-1993, at all levels of care. In all, 79% received some medical care whereas 11% arrived too late for treatment. For each case the major operational factors and all health care interventions were defined through interviews with family members and health care staff and from hospital records, and the avoidability of each case was determined. In the health institutions where the women had consulted, the available resources were assessed. It was found that in most cases the husband (29%) or the mother (31%) of the woman decided on her care in cases of complications, and together with the lack of transport, this often caused delay at home. Also, delay in transfer from the district hospital was common. Cases of abortion complications were often not managed on time because of the delay in reporting to hospital or misleading information. Suboptimal care was identified in 77% of the cases reaching health care. Inadequate treatment was identified by the district health staff in 61% and by the referral centres in 12% of their cases. Wrong decision at the district level and lack of equipment at the referral centre were the main reasons for inadequate care. It is concluded that although community education on danger signs in pregnancy and labour is important, provision of the core resources and supplies for emergency obstetric interventions, as well as clear protocols for management and referral, are absolutely necessary for improvement of maternal survival. (+info
Safety of air medical transportation after tissue plasminogen activator administration in acute ischemic stroke.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: We sought to determine the safety of air medical transport (AMT) of patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) immediately after or during administration of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Patients with AIS treated with tPA in nonuniversity hospitals frequently need transfer to tertiary care centers that can provide specialized care. AMT is a widely available mode of transport that is crucial in providing expedient and quality health care to critically ill patients while assuring high level of care during transportation. The safety of AMT of patients with AIS after or during administration of tPA has not been examined. METHODS: We performed retrospective chart review of 24 patients with AIS who were treated with intravenous tPA and transferred by helicopter to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania or the University of Cincinnati Hospital. The charts were reviewed for neurological complications, systemic complications, and adherence to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) protocol for AIS management. RESULTS: No major neurological or systemic complications occurred. Four patients had hypertension warranting treatment, 3 patients experienced motion sickness, 1 patient developed a transient confusional state, and 1 patient experienced minor systemic bleeding. Four NINDS protocol violations occurred, all related to blood pressure management. CONCLUSIONS: In this small series, AMT of AIS patients after thrombolysis was not associated with any major neurological or systemic complications. Flight crew education on the NINDS AIS protocol is essential in limiting the number of protocol violations. AMT of patients with AIS provides fast and safe access to tertiary centers that can provide state of the art stroke therapy. (+info
A single-center 8-year experience with percutaneous dilational tracheostomy.
OBJECTIVE: To determine surgical, postoperative, and postdischarge complications associated with percutaneous dilational tracheostomy (PDT) in an 8-year experience at the University of Kentucky. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: There are known risks associated with the transport of critically ill patients to the operating room for elective tracheostomy, and less-than-optimal conditions may interfere with open bedside tracheostomy. PDT has been introduced as an alternative to open tracheostomy. Despite information supporting its safety and utility, the technique has been criticized because advocates had not provided sufficient information regarding complications. METHODS: A prospective database was initiated on all patients who underwent PDT between September 1990 and May 1998. The database provided indication, procedure time, duration of intubation before PDT, and intraoperative and postoperative complications. Retrospective review of medical records and phone interviews provided long-term follow-up information. RESULTS: In the 8-year period, 827 PDTs were performed in 824 patients. Two patients were excluded because PDT could not be completed for technical reasons. There were 519 male and 305 female patients. Mean age was 56 years. Prolonged mechanical ventilatory support was the most common indication. Mean procedure time was 15 minutes, and the average duration of intubation before PDT was 10 days. The intraoperative complication rate was 6%, with premature extubation the most common complication. The procedure-related death rate was 0.6%. Postoperative complications were found in 5%, with bleeding the most common. With a mean follow-up of greater than 1 year, the tracheal stenosis rate was 1.6%. CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of this large, single-center study, the authors conclude that when performed by experienced surgeons, PDT is a safe and effective alternative to open surgical tracheostomy for intubated patients who require elective tracheostomy. (+info
Pediatric emergency preparedness in the office.
Pediatric office emergencies occur more commonly than is usually perceived by family physicians, and most offices are not optimally prepared to deal with these situations. Obtaining specific training in pediatric emergencies and performing mock "codes" to check office readiness can improve the proper handling of pediatric emergencies. Common airway emergencies include foreign-body aspiration and croup. Cool mist, racemic epinephrine nebulization and dexamethasone are typical treatment measures for croup. Asthma and bronchiolitis are common causes of respiratory distress. Hypovolemic shock is the most common cause of circulatory failure in children. Intraosseous access is a simple and underutilized route for vascular access in a critically ill child. Status epilepticus is the most common neurologic emergency. Avoidance of iatrogenic respiratory depression and hypotension can be optimized by taking an algorithmic approach to the use of anticonvulsant medications. Transport of patients after initial stabilization of an emergency should always be done in a manner that provides adequate safety and monitoring. (+info
What does it cost the patient to see the doctor?
Against a background of increasing demands on limited resources, there will be an emphasis on undertaking studies that relate benefits of an intervention to the costs that are incurred in their production. Patient costs are an important, but often overlooked, part of an economic exercise and include transport costs, loss of employment, and loss of leisure time. This paper highlights the theoretical difficulties inherent in deriving patient costs and suggests a pragmatic framework to derive unit costs in these areas. We demonstrate that these costs are not inconsiderable when compared with the cost of a general practitioner consultation. (+info
Effects of ambulance transport in critically ill patients.
Two groups of critically ill patients were transferred by ambulance from other hospitals to a central intensive therapy unit. The effect of transport was reviewed retrospectively in 46 patients and prospectively in 20 patients. Of the 46 patients reviewed retrospectively six became hypotensive, six became hypertensive, and seven developed delayed hypotension. One patient developed fits and six out of 13 patients had a rise in arterial PCO-2 of 1-6-4-1 kPa (12-31 mm Hg). Of the 20 patients reviewed prospectively, one patient became hypertensive due to overtransfusion, one had a fit, but none became hypotensive. Three out of four cases of delayed hypotension were related to starting intermittent positive pressure ventilation. Arterial PCO-2 fell in one patient and arterial PCO-2 rose in two, each change being related to changed oxygen therapy or narcotics. There were no changes in other cardiovascular or respiratory indices, body temperature, or urine production. Earlier transfer, resuscitation before transfer, continuing medical care during the journey, and hence a slower smoother journey seemed to be important factors in the management of these patients. Our findings, may have important implications in the future regional organization of the care of critically ill patients. (+info
Movement of criticall ill patients within hospital.
Critically ill patients were observed during routine movement inside the hospital to and from the intensive therapy unit. One patient a month suffered major cardiorespiratory collapse or death as a direct result of movement. Renewed bleeding of a pelvic fracture, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac embarrassment due to a haemothorax, and cardiovascular decompensation were seen. It was difficult to continue treatment during movement, especially maintaining an airway or providing adequate intermittent positive pressure ventilation. Seventy postoperative patients suffered few ill effects on being moved. Greater awareness of the dangers of moving critically ill patients within hospital is needed. Thorough preparation for the move and adequate maintenance of treatment during movement requires the skill of experienced medical staff. (+info
Heart transplantation in children in foreign countries with reference to medical, transportation, and financial issues.
Heart transplantation is increasingly becoming accepted worldwide as therapy for end-stage heart failure not only in adult patients but also in pediatric practice. The new law in Japan for organ transplantation from brain-dead patients was established on 16 October 1998, but there is no definite law or protocol for brain death in children under the age of 6 years and children less than 15 years of age cannot become donors. These facts make organ transplantation from the cadavers of neonates, infants and young children almost impossible in Japan, even though there are children who need heart or heart-lung transplantation. The present authors have to date transferred 8 patients to the USA or Germany for heart transplantation: 4 successfully underwent heart transplantation, but 4 died during the waiting period overseas. There are many things to consider; not only the medical problems involved in transportation, but also the financial issues when transferring patients to other countries. This report details the experience with the 8 cases that were transferred overseas for heart transplantation, and highlights the problems that need to be considered. (+info