Chest trauma epidemiology and emergency department management in a tertiary teaching hospital in Kigali, Rwanda

Introduction
Chest trauma is a major contributor to injury morbidity and mortality, and understanding trends is a crucial part of addressing this burden in low- and middle-income countries. This study reports the characteristics and emergency department (ED) management of chest trauma patients presenting to Rwanda’s national teaching hospital in Kigali.

Methods
This descriptive analysis included a convenience sample of patients presenting to a single tertiary hospital ED with chest trauma from June to December 2017. Demographic data were collected as well as injury mechanism, thoracic and associated injuries, types of imaging obtained, and treatments performed. Chart review was conducted seven days post-admission to follow up on outcomes and additional diagnoses and interventions. Incidences were calculated with Microsoft Excel.

Results
Among the 62 patients included in this study, 74% were male, and mean age was 35 years. Most patients were injured in road traffic crashes (RTCs) (68%). Common chest injuries included lung contusions (79% of cases), rib fractures (44%), and pneumothoraces (37%). Head trauma was a frequent concurrent extra-thoracic injury (61%). Diagnostic imaging primarily included E-FAST ultrasound (92%) and chest x-ray (98%). The most common therapies included painkillers (100%), intravenous fluids (89%), and non-invasive oxygen (63%), while 29% underwent invasive intervention in the form of thoracostomy. The majority of patients were admitted (81%). Pneumonia was the most common complication to occur in the first seven days (32% of admitted patients). Ultimately, 40% of patients were discharged home within seven days of presentation, 50% remained hospitalized, and 5% died.

Conclusion
This study on the epidemiology of chest trauma in Rwanda can guide injury prevention and medical training priorities. Efforts should target prevention in young males and those involved in RTCs. ED physicians in Rwanda need to be prepared to diagnose and treat a variety of chest injuries with invasive and noninvasive means.

Nutritional intake in acute care surgery patients in Kigali, Rwanda- A single institution descriptive analysis

INTRODUCTION: Nutrition is essential for health and healing, especially in the perioperative period. However, little is known about the nutritional intake of hospitalized patients in low and middle-income countries.
This paper aimed to characterize the composition and quantity of food in acute care surgery patients at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda.

METHODS: Acute care surgery patients were queried about nutritional intake during hospitalization from May 21, 2018, to June 3, 2018, for 100 patient days. Calorie and protein intake were estimated and compared to standards for an average Rwandan adult.
RESULTS: Median daily calorie intake was 1472 kcal/day (Interquartile range (IQR): 662, 2116). The median daily protein intake was 45.99 g (IQR: 24.38, 70.22). Assuming a calorie need of 25 kcal/kg/day and a protein need of 1g/kg/day, this is 98.1% of the estimated daily calorie needs and 76.7% of estimated daily protein needs. Estimating higher energy needs for a surgical patient, the daily intake is 70.0-81.9% of calorie needs and 51.1-63.9% of protein needs.

CONCLUSION: Overall, the calorie and protein intake for the average Rwandan acute care surgery patient were low compared to the needs of a 60 kg surgical patient. More education and accessibility to high-quality foods are needed to ensure adequate nutrition in the postoperative period to optimize clinical outcomes.

A collaboration to improve perioperative acute pain care at the University Teaching Hospital of Butare, Rwanda

BACKGROUND: A perioperative acute pain care program integrating standardized assessment and treatment forms into pain care was developed and implemented at an urban hospital in Rwanda through a collaboration between Rwandan and Canadian experts. This study evaluated the perioperative acute pain care program using a quality improvement lens.

METHODS: Using the Model for Improvement: Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycle, a mixed methods evaluation was performed. Over one year, 519 randomized patient chart audits were conducted and analyzed through control charts. Through purposeful sampling, focus groups comprised ofsurgeons and nurses (N=34) involved in pain care in surgery, obstetrics, and anesthesiology were performed and analyzed via thematic coding.

RESULTS: The average attempted form completion rate across all forms varied monthly between 56-93% (mean=79%; median=81%). Across all forms, both the mean and median total number of errors per form were 12.5. Enablers of form use included improved pain care for patients and feelings of professional satisfaction. Program implementation was challenged by resource constraints, form integration, and health care provider training.

CONCLUSION: Future quality improvement collaborations should identify and address improved pain care while working with local experts to ensure PDSA cycles are continuous, and evidence based.

Right-sided Weakness in a Rwandan Patient with Unrepaired Tetralogy of Fallot

Background

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is the most common cyanotic congenital heart disease encountered in pediatrics. Long-term survival after surgical repair has improved; however, reported mortality rates in unrepaired TOF are significant. Associated complications include neurological sequelae, most frequently brain abscess and stroke. In countries without early intervention for congenital heart disease including TOF, delayed presentations and complications require recognition by healthcare workers.

Case presentation

A 22 year old male with a history of unrepaired TOF presented to Rwanda’s tertiary university hospital, University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) with acute right-sided hemiparesis. Diagnostic imaging identified a left-sided brain lesion consistent with brain abscess and cardiac mass concerning for an endocardial vegetation. He was managed with intravenous antibiotics, but subsequently died due to complications of septicemia.

Conclusion

In countries where surgical repair of TOF is not available, early recognition and medical management are key in temporizing the development of devastating sequelae. Describing the prevalence of CHD in Rwanda is urgent, requiring further research by which effective prevention and treatment strategies can be developed.

The Effect and Feasibility of mHealth-Supported Surgical Site Infection Diagnosis by Community Health Workers After Cesarean Section in Rural Rwanda: Randomized Controlled Trial

Background:
The development of a surgical site infection (SSI) after cesarean section (c-section) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries, including Rwanda. Rwanda relies on a robust community health worker (CHW)–led, home-based paradigm for delivering follow-up care for women after childbirth. However, this program does not currently include postoperative care for women after c-section, such as SSI screenings.

Objective:
This trial assesses whether CHW’s use of a mobile health (mHealth)–facilitated checklist administered in person or via phone call improved rates of return to care among women who develop an SSI following c-section at a rural Rwandan district hospital. A secondary objective was to assess the feasibility of implementing the CHW-led mHealth intervention in this rural district.

Methods:
A total of 1025 women aged ≥18 years who underwent a c-section between November 2017 and September 2018 at Kirehe District Hospital were randomized into the three following postoperative care arms: (1) home visit intervention (n=335, 32.7%), (2) phone call intervention (n=334, 32.6%), and (3) standard of care (n=356, 34.7%). A CHW-led, mHealth-supported SSI diagnostic protocol was delivered in the two intervention arms, while patients in the standard of care arm were instructed to adhere to routine health center follow-up. We assessed intervention completion in each intervention arm and used logistic regression to assess the odds of returning to care.

Results:
The majority of women in Arm 1 (n=295, 88.1%) and Arm 2 (n=226, 67.7%) returned to care and were assessed for an SSI at their local health clinic. There were no significant differences in the rates of returning to clinic within 30 days (P=.21), with high rates found consistently across all three arms (Arm 1: 99.7%, Arm 2: 98.4%, and Arm 3: 99.7%, respectively).

Conclusions:
Home-based post–c-section follow-up is feasible in rural Africa when performed by mHealth-supported CHWs. In this study, we found no difference in return to care rates between the intervention arms and standard of care. However, given our previous study findings describing the significant patient-incurred financial burden posed by traveling to a health center, we believe this intervention has the potential to reduce this burden by limiting patient travel to the health center when an SSI is ruled out at home. Further studies are needed (1) to determine the acceptability of this intervention by CHWs and patients as a new standard of care after c-section and (2) to assess whether an app supplementing the mHealth screening checklist with image-based machine learning could improve CHW diagnostic accuracy.

Exploring the lived experiences of parents caring for infants with gastroschisis in Rwanda: The untold story

Pediatric surgery is a crucial pillar of health equity but is often not prioritized in the global health agenda, especially in low-and middle-income countries. Gastroschisis (GS) is a type of structural congenital anomaly that can be treated through surgical interventions. In Rwanda, neonatal surgical care is only available in one hospital. The experience of parents of children born with gastroschisis has not been previously studied in Rwanda. The objective of this study was to explore the lived experiences of parents of children diagnosed with GS in Rwanda. A qualitative study using a semi-structured interview guide was conducted. Parents who had children with gastroschisis and were discharged alive from the hospital in Rwanda were interviewed by trained data collectors, from May to July 2021. Data were transcribed, translated, and then coded using a structured code-book. Thematic analysis was conducted with the use of Dedoose software. Sixteen parents participated in the study. Five themes emerged from the data. They were: “GS diagnosis had a significant emotional impact on the parents”, “Parents were content with the life-saving medical care provided for their children despite some dissatisfaction due to the delayed initiation of care and shortage of medications”, “GS care was accompanied by financial challenges”, “support systems were important coping mechanisms” and “the impact of GS care extended into the post-discharge period”. Having a newborn with GS was an emotional journey. The lack of pre-knowledge about the condition created a shock to the parents. Parents found support from their faith and other parents with similar experiences. The experiences with the care received were mostly positive. The overall financial burden incurred from the medical treatment and indirect costs was high and extended beyond the hospital stay. Strengthening prenatal and hospital services, providing peer, spiritual and financial support could enhance the parents’ experience.

The impact of the Fundamental Critical Course on knowledge acquisition in Rwanda

Background. Emerging critical care systems have gained little attention in low- and middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 4% of the healthcare workforce is trained in critical care, and mortality rates are unacceptably high in this patient population.
Aim. We sought to retrospectively describe the knowledge acquisition and confidence improvement of practitioners who attend the Fundamental Critical Care Support (FCCS) course in Rwanda.
Methods. We conducted a retrospective study in which we assessed survey data and multiple-choice question data that were collected before and after course delivery. The purpose of these assessments at the time of delivery was to evaluate participants’ perception and acquisition of critical care knowledge.
Results. Thirty-six interprofessional clinicians completed the training. Performance on the multiple-choice questions improved overall after the course (mean score pre-course of 56.5% to mean score post-course of 65.8%,p-value <0.001) and improved in all content areas with the exception of diagnosis and management of acute coronary syndrome and acute respiratory failure/mechanical ventilation. Both physicians and nurses improved their scores significantly (68.9% to 75.6%,p-value = 0.031 and 52.0% to 63.5%,p-value <0.001, respectively). Self-reported
confidence in level of knowledge also increased in all areas. Survey respondents indicated on open-answer questions that they would like the course offerings at least annually, and that further dissemination of the course in Rwanda was warranted.
Conclusion. Deploying the established FCCS course improved Rwandan healthcare provider knowledge and confidence across most critical care content areas. Therefore, this course represents a good first step in bridging the gaps noted in emerging critical care systems.

User Perceptions and Use of an Enhanced Electronic Health Record in Rwanda With and Without Clinical Alerts: Cross-sectional Survey

Background:
Electronic health records (EHRs) have been implemented in many low-resource settings but lack strong evidence for usability, use, user confidence, scalability, and sustainability.

Objective:
This study aimed to evaluate staff use and perceptions of an EHR widely used for HIV care in >300 health facilities in Rwanda, providing evidence on factors influencing current performance, scalability, and sustainability.

Methods:
A randomized, cross-sectional, structured interview survey of health center staff was designed to assess functionality, use, and attitudes toward the EHR and clinical alerts. This study used the associated randomized clinical trial study sample (56/112, 50% sites received an enhanced EHR), pulling 27 (50%) sites from each group. Free-text comments were analyzed thematically using inductive coding.

Results:
Of the 100 participants, 90 (90% response rate) were interviewed at 54 health centers: 44 (49%) participants were clinical and 46 (51%) were technical. The EHR top uses were to access client data easily or quickly (62/90, 69%), update patient records (56/89, 63%), create new patient records (49/88, 56%), generate various reports (38/85, 45%), and review previous records (43/89, 48%). In addition, >90% (81/90) of respondents agreed that the EHR made it easier to make informed decisions, was worth using, and has improved patient information quality. Regarding availability, (66/88) 75% said they could always or almost always count on the EHR being available, whereas (6/88) 7% said never/almost never. In intervention sites, staff were significantly more likely to update existing records (P=.04), generate summaries before (P<.001) or during visits (P=.01), and agree that “the EHR provides useful alerts, and reminders” (P<.01).

Conclusions:
Most users perceived the EHR as well accepted, appropriate, and effective for use in low-resource settings despite infrastructure limitation in 25% (22/88) of the sites. The implementation of EHR enhancements can improve the perceived usefulness and use of key functions. Successful scale-up and use of EHRs in small health facilities could improve clinical documentation, care, reporting, and disease surveillance in low- and middle-income countries.

Equitable access to quality trauma systems in Low and Middle Income Countries

Injuries in low-income and middle-income countries are prevalent and their number is expected to increase. Death and disability after injury can be reduced if people reach healthcare facilities in a timely manner. Knowledge of barriers to access to quality injury care is necessary to intervene to improve outcomes. We combined a four-delay framework with WHO Building Blocks and Institution of Medicine Quality Outcomes Frameworks to describe barriers to trauma care in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana, South Africa and Rwanda. We used a parallel convergent mixed-methods research design, integrating the results to enable a holistic analysis of the barriers to access to quality injury care. Data were collected using surveys of patient experiences of injury care, interviews and focus group discussions with patients and community leaders, and a survey of policy-makers and healthcare leaders on the governance context for injury care. We identified 121 barriers across all three countries. Of these, 31 (25.6%) were shared across countries. More than half (18/31, 58%) were predominantly related to delay 3 (‘Delays to receiving quality care’). The majority of the barriers were captured using just one of the multiple methods, emphasising the need to use multiple methods to identify all barriers. Given there are many barriers to access to quality care for peoplewho have been injured in Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa, but few of these are shared across countries, solutions to overcome these barriers may also be contextually dependent. This suggests the need for rigorous assessments of contexts using multiple data collection methods before developing interventions to improve access to quality car

The true costs of cesarean delivery for patients in rural Rwanda: Accounting for post-discharge expenses in estimated health expenditures

Introduction
While it is recognized that there are costs associated with postoperative patient follow-up, risk assessments of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) due to surgery in sub-Saharan Africa rarely include expenses after discharge. We describe patient-level costs for cesarean section (c-section) and follow-up care up to postoperative day (POD) 30 and evaluate the contribution of follow-up to CHEs in rural Rwanda.

Methods
We interviewed women who delivered via c-section at Kirehe District Hospital between September 2019 and February 2020. Expenditure details were captured on an adapted surgical indicator financial survey tool and extracted from the hospital billing system. CHE was defined as health expenditure of ≥ 10% of annual household expenditure. We report the cost of c-section up to 30 days after discharge, the rate of CHE among c-section patients stratified by in-hospital costs and post-discharge follow-up costs, and the main contributors to c-section follow-up costs. We performed a multivariate logistic regression using a backward stepwise process to determine independent predictors of CHE at POD30 at α ≤ 0.05.

Results
Of the 479 participants in this study, 90% were classified as impoverished before surgery and an additional 6.4% were impoverished by the c-section. The median out-of-pocket costs up to POD30 was US$122.16 (IQR: $102.94, $148.11); 63% of these expenditures were attributed to post-discharge expenses or lost opportunity costs (US$77.50; IQR: $67.70, $95.60). To afford c-section care, 64.4% borrowed money and 18.4% sold possessions. The CHE rate was 27% when only considering direct and indirect costs up to the time of discharge and 77% when including the reported expenses up to POD30. Transportation and lost household wages were the largest contributors to post-discharge costs. Further, CHE at POD30 was independently predicted by membership in community-based health insurance (aOR = 3.40, 95% CI: 1.21,9.60), being a farmer (aOR = 2.25, 95% CI:1.00,3.03), primary school education (aOR = 2.35, 95% CI:1.91,4.66), and small household sizes had 0.22 lower odds of experiencing CHE compared to large households (aOR = 0.78, 95% CI:0.66,0.91).

Conclusion
Costs associated with surgical follow-up are often neglected in financial risk calculations but contribute significantly to the risk of CHE in rural Rwanda. Insurance coverage for direct medical costs is insufficient to protect against CHE. Innovative follow-up solutions to reduce costs of patient transport and compensate for household lost wages need to be considered.