Predictors of prolonged hospitalisation in childhood pneumonia in a rural health centre
AbstractBackground. Pneumonia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in under-5 children. Caring for children with pneumonia, especially in the case of prolonged hospitalisation, is a daunting task in resource-poor countries where caregivers are required to pay for treatment ‘out of pocket’ at the point of care. These children are often discharged against medical advice with incomplete treatment, with a consequent high rate of re-admission and complications.
Objective. To determine factors that predict prolonged hospitalisation among under-5 children with severe pneumonia admitted to a comprehensive health centre in rural Gambia.
Methods. We prospectively assessed 420 consecutive under-5 admissions with severe pneumonia, diagnosed using World Health Organization criteria, for factors in patient history, examination or investigations that could predict a hospital stay longer than 5 full days.
Results. Over the 6-month study period, pneumonia accounted for 27.6% of the total number of under-5 admissions. The mean age of children with pneumonia was 18.0 months (standard deviation (SD) ±13.7), there was a male to female ratio of 1.2:1, and 40.0% of the children were infants. Their mean hospital stay was 4.5 (SD ±3.0) days and 105 (25.0%) of the children had a prolonged hospital stay. Head nodding (odds ratio (OR) 1.929; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.124 - 3.414; p=0.018), the presence of oedematous protein-energy malnutrition (OR 5.813; CI 1.060 - 3.616; p=0.006), severe wasting (OR 2.071; CI 1.047 - 3.241; p=0.034) and hypoxaemia at presentation (OR 2.220; CI 1.097 - 3.405; p=0.023) were independent predictors of prolonged hospital stay.
Conclusion. Caregivers of children hospitalised with pneumonia and severe wasting, head nodding, oedema or hypoxaemia should be counselled at admission about the possibility of prolonged hospitalisation.