Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice

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Mortality Patterns In The Accident And Emergency Department Of An Urban Hospital In Nigeria

AU Ekere, BE Yellowe, S Umune


Objective: The accident and emergency (A & E) department of any hospital provides an insight to the quality of care available in the institution. The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) is a foremost institution in the South-South geopolitical region of Nigeria, servicing a core population of about 5 million people. The aim of this review was to highlight the demographic patterns of mortality, time spent before death in the emergency room.

Methods: A 3-year retrospective review, covering April 2000 – March 2003, of patients attended to in the Accident & Emergency department of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital was carried out. Casualty records including attendance registers, Nurses\' report books and death certificates were used to extract demographic indices, causes of death and time from arrival to death in the Accident and Emergency Unit. Multiway frequency tables were used for analysis.

Results: Of the 22,791 patients were seen during the said period, 446 died, giving a crude mortality rate of 2 percent. The male to female ratio was 1.5:1; the trauma subset and the non-traumatic subset being 4.6:1 and 1.2:1 respectively Most of the cases were of non-traumatic origin (79.8%), with the 20-49 age group being the most affected when all the cases were taken into consideration. However, the overall mean age was 33±9.4 years. The peak age in trauma deaths was 20-29 year, while that in non-traumatic deaths was 40-49 years. Some of the deaths (3.4%) could not be traced to any cause. Probably due to incomplete records or ignorance to the cause of death. Road traffic accidents and assaults were the commonest causes of traumatic death, accounting for 57.8% and 11.1% respectively. Bulk of the non traumatic deaths (25.2%) was from cardiovascular diseases. Most of the patients (70.9%) died within six hours of arrival in the accident and emergency, while 3.6% (16) were dead on arrival. The average time in the casualty before death was about 22.0 hours. Contributing factors to theses deaths might include poor infrastructures on ground, inadequate transportation to hospital, delay in presentation and inadequate clinical exposure by the first line physicians in the accident and emergency department.

Conclusion: Improvement in management techniques might unravel the mysteries of death of unknown origin. Management of medical emergencies should be emphasized in the training of accident and emergency workers.

Key Words Accident, emergency, death, traumatic, non-traumatic, Nigeria

Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice Vol 8(1) 2005: 14-18

AJOL African Journals Online