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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


KABONGO, K; NAIDOO, N  and  HARDCASTLE, TC. The spectrum and outcome of paediatric emergency surgical admissions - a regional hospital analysis. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2022, vol.60, n.2, pp.124-127. ISSN 2078-5151.

BACKGROUND: Improving emergency surgical care for children requires information on the causes of admissions and the variables affecting outcome. There is a lack of such data in the South African context. METHODS: This retrospective study was conducted from January 2016 to December 2017. Data was collected on all children (< 12 years of age) requiring admission with emergency surgical conditions. Infrastructure and staffing ratios were determined prior to data collection. Information was sourced from admission and discharge books, patient files and theatre registers. Variables of age, sex, referral source, diagnosis, length of stay, surgical treatment and outcome including death were collected. RESULTS: Four hundred and thirty-five of the 1 048 children (42%) admitted were in the 0-2-year age group. Trauma (258), sepsis (564) and burns (226) were the main causes. The median hospital stay was 3 days (IQR 2-5), however, for burns patients, the median stay was 4 days (IQR 2-9). Surgery was performed on 279 (27%) admissions. Eight (0.8%) died, six of which were due to burns. Clinical status prior to death was poorly documented. A dedicated high care unit and burns isolation rooms were lacking. Surgeon/population and child/nurse ratios were respectively 1.48/100 000 and 7-12/1. CONCLUSION: This study found that the emergency paediatric surgical burden is significant. Sepsis and trauma combined are the leading cause of emergency admissions. Burns had the highest mortality. Although mortality was low, improvements of staff to patient ratios and the institution of an early warning system could reduce mortality.

Keywords : surgery; children; trauma; procedure; system; nursing.

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