Outcomes of complex burn injury patients managed at two primary and one tertiary level burns facilities in the Western Cape province of South Africa – a retrospective review
Background: This study aimed to compare factors contributing to a positive outcome of adult burn injury patients managed at two primary and one tertiary level Western Cape hospitals. These patients from the primary hospitals (PLHs) met the referral criteria for specialised care at the Tygerberg Hospital burns unit (TBU) but were not accepted or were accepted late.
Methods: A total of 1034 adult burn injury patients seen at two primary level (“A” and “B”) hospitals and the TBU between 2016 and 2019 were retrospectively analysed. One hundred and eleven (111) primary level patients (“A” 71, “B” 40) met the criteria for referral to the TBU. The outcomes and factors contributing to positive outcome of these patients were compared with the 859 patients treated at the TBU during the same period.
Results: Patients treated at the TBU showed longer theatre waiting times, more operations, and higher complication and death rates than their primary level counterparts. The PLHs showed no factors significantly contributing to hospital discharge. At TBU, pregnancy status, younger age, hot water burns, lower abbreviated burns severity index (ABSI) score, and longer time to theatre were associated with hospital discharge. A shortage of beds was the main reason for denial of admission to the TBU.
Conclusion: The PLHs showed good outcomes in managing severe burn injuries, although no significant contributors to a positive outcome were identified. Patient- and facility-related factors contributed to positive outcomes at the TBU. Upgrading both the Western Cape’s primary level capabilities and the TBU’s accessibility and efficiency are necessary to improve burns services.
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