Non-Obstetric Surgical Care at Three Rural District Hospitals in Rwanda: More Human Capacity and Surgical Equipment May Increase Operative Care
Hedt-Gauthier, Bethany L.
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CitationMuhirwa, E., C. Habiyakare, B. L. Hedt-Gauthier, J. Odhiambo, R. Maine, N. Gupta, G. Toma, et al. 2016. “Non-Obstetric Surgical Care at Three Rural District Hospitals in Rwanda: More Human Capacity and Surgical Equipment May Increase Operative Care.” World Journal of Surgery 40 (1): 2109-2116. doi:10.1007/s00268-016-3515-0. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00268-016-3515-0.
AbstractBackground: Most mortality attributable to surgical emergencies occurs in low- and middle-income countries. District hospitals, which serve as the first-level surgical facility in rural sub-Saharan Africa, are often challenged with limited surgical capacity. This study describes the presentation, management, and outcomes of non-obstetric surgical patients at district hospitals in Rwanda. Methods: This study included patients seeking non-obstetric surgical care at three district hospitals in rural Rwanda in 2013. Demographics, surgical conditions, patient care, and outcomes are described; operative and non-operative management were stratified by hospitals and differences assessed using Fisher’s exact test. Results: Of the 2660 patients who sought surgical care at the three hospitals, most were males (60.7 %). Many (42.6 %) were injured and 34.7 % of injuries were through road traffic crashes. Of presenting patients, 25.3 % had an operation, with patients presenting to Butaro District Hospital significantly more likely to receive surgery (57.0 %, p < 0.001). General practitioners performed nearly all operations at Kirehe and Rwinkwavu District Hospitals (98.0 and 100.0 %, respectively), but surgeons performed 90.6 % of the operations at Butaro District Hospital. For outcomes, 39.5 % of all patients were discharged without an operation, 21.1 % received surgery and were discharged, and 21.1 % were referred to tertiary facilities for surgical care. Conclusion: Significantly more patients in Butaro, the only site with a surgeon on staff and stronger surgical infrastructure, received surgery. Availing more surgeons who can address the most common surgical needs and improving supplies and equipment may improve outcomes at other districts. Surgical task sharing is recommended as a temporary solution.
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