Latin American surgical outcomes study: study protocol for a multicentre international observational cohort study of patient outcomes after surgery in Latin American countries

Reported data suggest that 4.2 million deaths will occur within 30 days of surgery worldwide each year, half of which are in low- and middle-income countries. Postoperative complications are a leading cause of long-term morbidity and mortality. Patients who survive and leave the hospital after surgical complications regularly experience reductions in long-term survival and functional independence, resulting in increased costs. With a high volume of surgery performed, there is a growing perception of the substantial impact of even minor enhancements in perioperative care. The Latin American Surgical Outcomes Study (LASOS) is an international, multicentre, prospective cohort study of adults submitted to in-patient surgery in Latin America aiming to provide detailed data describing postoperative complications and surgical mortality.

LASOS is a 7 day cohort study of adults undergoing surgery in Latin America. Details of preoperative risk factors, intraoperative care, and postoperative outcomes will be collected. The primary outcome will be in-hospital postoperative complications of any cause. Secondary outcomes include in-hospital all-cause mortality, duration of hospital stay after surgery, and admission to a critical care unit within 30 days after surgery during the index hospitalisation.

The LASOS results will be published in peer-reviewed journals, reported and presented at international meetings, and widely disseminated to patients and public in participating countries via mainstream and social media.

The LASOS may augment our understanding of postoperative complications and surgial mortality in Latin America.

Clinical trial registration

Burn Admissions Across Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Repeated Cross-sectional Survey

Burn injuries have decreased markedly in high-income countries while the incidence of burns remains high in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of burns are thought to occur. However, the cause of burns in LMIC is poorly documented. The aim was to document the causes of severe burns and the changes over time. A cross-sectional survey was completed for 2014 and 2019 in eight burn centers across Africa, Asia, and Latin America: Cairo, Nairobi, Ibadan, Johannesburg, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Sao Paulo, and Guadalajara. The information summarised included demographics of burn patients, location, cause, and outcomes of burns. In total, 15,344 patients were admitted across all centers, 37% of burns were women and 36% of burns were children. Burns occurred mostly in household settings (43–79%). In Dhaka and Kathmandu, occupational burns were also common (32 and 43%, respectively). Hot liquid and flame burns were most common while electric burns were also common in Dhaka and Sao Paulo. The type of flame burns varies by center and year, in Dhaka, 77% resulted from solid fuel in 2014 while 74% of burns resulted from Liquefied Petroleum Gas in 2019. In Nairobi, a large proportion (32%) of burns were intentional self-harm or assault. The average length of stay in hospitals decreased from 2014 to 2019. The percentage of deaths ranged from 5% to 24%. Our data provide important information on the causes of severe burns which can provide guidance in how to approach the development of burn injury prevention programs in LMIC.

Implementing a Neurotrauma Registry in Latin America and the Caribbean

Background Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has a disproportionately greater impact in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). One strategy to reduce the burden of disease in LMICs is through the implementation of a trauma registry that standardizes the assessment of each patient’s management of care.

Objective This study aims to ascertain the interest of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) nations in establishing a shared neurotrauma registry in the regional block, based on an existing framework for collaboration.

Methods A descriptive review was performed regarding the interests of LAC nations in implementing a shared neurotrauma registry in their region. We convened a meeting with seven Caribbean and five Latin American nations.

Results One hundred percent (n = 12) of the LAC representatives including neurosurgeons, neurointensivists, ministers of health, and chief medical officers/emergency medical technicians (EMTs) agreed to adopt the registry for tracking the burden of TBI and associated pathologies within the region.

Conclusion The implementation of a neurotrauma registry can benefit the region through a shared database to track disease, improve outcomes, build research, and ultimately influence policy

COVID-19 and resilience of healthcare systems in ten countries

Declines in health service use during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic could have important effects on population health. In this study, we used an interrupted time series design to assess the immediate effect of the pandemic on 31 health services in two low-income (Ethiopia and Haiti), six middle-income (Ghana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and Thailand) and high-income (Chile and South Korea) countries. Despite efforts to maintain health services, disruptions of varying magnitude and duration were found in every country, with no clear patterns by country income group or pandemic intensity. Disruptions in health services often preceded COVID-19 waves. Cancer screenings, TB screening and detection and HIV testing were most affected (26–96% declines). Total outpatient visits declined by 9–40% at national levels and remained lower than predicted by the end of 2020. Maternal health services were disrupted in approximately half of the countries, with declines ranging from 5% to 33%. Child vaccinations were disrupted for shorter periods, but we estimate that catch-up campaigns might not have reached all children missed. By contrast, provision of antiretrovirals for HIV was not affected. By the end of 2020, substantial disruptions remained in half of the countries. Preliminary data for 2021 indicate that disruptions likely persisted. Although a portion of the declines observed might result from decreased needs during lockdowns (from fewer infectious illnesses or injuries), a larger share likely reflects a shortfall of health system resilience. Countries must plan to compensate for missed healthcare during the current pandemic and invest in strategies for better health system resilience for future emergencies.

Has Latin America achieved universal health coverage yet? Lessons from four countries

Seven years after the commitment to United Nations’ call for Universal Health Coverage, healthcare services in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico are generally accessible and affordable; but they still struggle to meet population health demands and address the rising health care costs. We aim to describe measures taken by these four countries to commit by Universal Health Coverage, addressing their barriers and challenges.

Scoping literature review, supplemented with targeted stakeholders survey.

The four countries analysed achieved an overall index of essential coverage of 76–77%, and households out of pocket health expenditures fall below 25%. Services coverage was improved by expanding access to primary healthcare systems and coverage for non-communicable diseases, while provided community outreach by the increase in the number of skilled healthcare workers. New pharmaceutical support programs provided access to treatments for chronic conditions at zero cost, while high-costs drugs and cancer treatments were partially guaranteed. However, the countries lack with effective financial protection mechanisms, that continue to increase out of pocket expenditure as noted by lowest financial protection scores, and lack of effective financial mechanisms besides cash transfers.

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico have made progress towards UHC. Although, better financial protection is urgently required.

Management of Soft-Tissue Coverage of Open Tibia Fractures in Latin America: Techniques, Timing, and Resources

This study examined soft-tissue coverage techniques of open tibia fractures, described soft-tissue treatment patterns across income groups, and determined resource accessibility and availability in Latin America.

A 36-question survey was distributed to orthopaedic surgeons in Latin America through two networks: national orthopaedic societies and the Asociación de Cirujanos Traumatólogos de las Américas (ACTUAR). Demographic information was collected, and responses were stratified by income groups: high-income countries (HICs) and middle-income countries (MICs).

The survey was completed by 469 orthopaedic surgeons, representing 19 countries in Latin America (2 HICs and 17 MICs). Most respondents were male (89%), completed residency training (96%), and were fellowship-trained (71%). Only 44% of the respondents had received soft-tissue training. Respondents (77%) reported a strong interest in attending a soft-tissue training course. Plastic surgeons were more commonly the primary providers for Gustilo Anderson (GA) Type IIIB injuries in HICs than in MICs (100% vs. 47%, p<0.01) and plastic surgeons were more available (<24 hours of patient presentation to the hospital) in HICs than MICs (63% vs. 26%, p=0.05), demonstrating statistically significant differences. In addition, respondents in HICs performed free flaps more commonly than in MICs for proximal third (55% vs. 18%, p<0.01), middle third (36% vs. 9%, p=0.02), and distal third (55% vs. 10%, p<0.01) lower extremity wounds. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT or Wound VAC) was the only resource available to more than half of the respondents. Though not statistically significant, surgeons reported having more access to plastic surgeons at their institutions in HICs than MICs (91% vs. 62%, p=0.12) and performed microsurgical flaps more commonly at their respective institutions (73% vs. 42%, p=0.06).

The study demonstrated that most orthopaedic surgeons in Latin America have received no soft-tissue training; that HICs and MICs have different access to plastic surgeons and different expectations for flap type and definitive coverage timing; and that most respondents had limited access to necessary soft-tissue coverage surgical resources. Further investigation into differences in the clinical outcomes related to soft-tissue coverage methods and protocols can provide additional insight into the importance of timing and access to specialists.

Western Honduras Copán Population–Based Cancer Registry: Initial Estimates and a Model for Rural Central America

Population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) are critical for national cancer control planning, yet few low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have quality PBCRs. The Central America Four region represents the principal LMIC region in the Western hemisphere. We describe the establishment of a PBCR in rural Western Honduras with first estimates for the 2013-2017 period.

The Western Honduras PBCR was established through a collaboration of academic institutions and the Honduras Ministry of Health for collection of incident cancer data from public and private health services. Data were recorded using the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) web-based platform with data monitoring and quality checks. Crude and age-standardized rates (ASRs) were calculated at the regional level, following WHO methodology.

The web-based platform for data collection, available ancillary data services (eg, endoscopy), and technical support from international centers (United States and Colombia) were instrumental for quality control. Crude cancer incidence rates were 112.2, 69.8, and 154.6 per 100,000 habitants overall, males, and females, respectively (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer). The adjusted ASRs were 84.2, 49.6, and 118.9 per 100,000 overall habitants, males, and females, respectively. The most common sites among men were stomach (ASR 26.0, 52.4%), colorectal (ASR 5.11, 10.15%), and prostate (ASR 2.7, 5.4%). The most common sites in women were cervix (ASR 34.2, 36.7%), breast (ASR 11.2, 12.3%), and stomach (ASR 10.8, 11.7%).

The Copán-PBCR represents a successful model to develop cancer monitoring in rural LMICs. Innovations included the use of the REDCap platform and leverage of Health Ministry resources. This provides the first PBCR data for Honduras and the Central America Four and confirms that infection-driven cancers, such as gastric and cervical, should be priority targets for cancer control initiatives.

Leadership development for orthopaedic trauma surgeons in Latin America: opportunities for and barriers to skill acquisition

There is growing interest in leadership courses for physicians. Few opportunities are available in global regions with limited resources. This study describes orthopaedic trauma surgeons’ desired leadership skill acquisition, opportunities, and barriers to course participation in Latin America.

Latin American orthopaedic trauma surgeons from the Asociación de Cirujanos Traumatólogos de las Americas (ACTUAR) network were surveyed. This survey solicited and gauged the surgeons’ level of interest in leadership topics and their relative importance utilizing a 5-point Likert-scale. Additionally, comparisons were calculated between middle-income countries (MICs) and high-income countries (HICs) to ascertain if needs were different between groups. The survey included demographic information, nationality, level of training, years in practice, leadership position, needs assessment, and perceived barriers for leadership educational opportunities.

One hundred forty-four orthopaedic surgeons completed the survey, representing 18 countries across Latin America; 15 MICs and 3 HICs. Participants had more than 20 years in practice (49%) and held leadership positions (81%) in hospital settings (62%), national orthopaedic societies (45%), and/or clinical settings (40%). Sixty-three percent had never attended a leadership course due to lack of opportunities/invitations (69%), difficulty missing work (24%), and costs (21%). Ninety-seven percent expressed interest in attending a leadership course. No difference in needs was determined between respondents from MICs and HICs. Professional Ethics, Crisis Management/Organizational Change Management, and High Performing Team-Building were identified as the most important leadership topics.

Orthopaedic surgeons in Latin America demonstrate an interest in acquiring additional leadership skills but have few opportunities. Identifying interests, knowledge gaps, and core competencies can guide the development of such opportunities.

Mixed Methods Evaluation of Simulation-Based Training for Postpartum Hemorrhage Management in Guatemala

To assess if simulation-based training (SBT) of B-lynch suture and uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) for the management of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) impacted provider attitudes, practice patterns, and patient management in Guatemala, using a mixed-methods approach.

We conducted an in-country SBT course on the management of PPH in a governmental teaching hospital in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Participants were OB/GYN providers (n = 39) who had or had not received SBT before. Surveys and qualitative interviews evaluated provider knowledge and experiences with B-lynch and UBT to treat PPH. In addition, a retrospective chart review was performed to evaluate management of PPH over a 2-year period before and after the introduction of SBT.

Multiple-choice surveys indicated that providers who received SBT were more comfortable performing and teaching B-lynch compared to those who did not (p = 0.003 and 0.005). Qualitative interviews revealed increased provider comfort with B-lynch compared to UBT and identified multiple barriers to uterine balloon tamponade implementation. Chart review demonstrated an increased use of UBT after the introduction of simulation-based training, though not statistically significant (p = 0.06) in contrast to no change in B-lynch use.

Simulation-based training had a stronger impact on provider comfort with B-lynch compared to uterine balloon tamponade. Qualitative interviews provided insight into the challenges that hinder uptake of uterine balloon tamponade, namely resource limitations and decision-making hierarchies. Capturing data through a mixed-methods approach allowed for more comprehensive program evaluation in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

Barriers to Trauma Care in South and Central America: a systematic review

Trauma is widespread in Central and South America and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Providing high quality emergency trauma care is of great importance. Understanding the barriers to care is challenging; this systematic review aims to establish current the current challenges and barriers in providing high-quality trauma care within the 21 countries in the region.

OVID Medline, Embase, EBM reviews and Global Health databases were systematically searched in October 2020. Records were screened by two independent researchers. Data were extracted according to a predetermined proforma. Studies of any type, published in the preceding decade were included, excluding grey literature and non-English records. Trauma was defined as blunt or penetrating injury from an external force. Studies were individually critically appraised and assessed for bias using the RTI item bank.

57 records met the inclusion criteria. 20 countries were covered at least once. Nine key barriers were identified: training (37/57), resources and equipment (33/57), protocols (29/57), staffing (17/57), transport and logistics (16/57), finance (15/57), socio-cultural (13/57), capacity (9/57), public education (4/57).

Nine key barriers negatively impact on the provision of high-quality trauma care and highlight potential areas for improving care in Central & South America. Many countries in the region, along with rural areas, are under-represented by the current literature and future research is urgently required to assess barriers to trauma management in these countries.