Delays Experienced by Patients With Pediatric Cancer During the Health Facility Referral Process: A Study in Northern Tanzania

PURPOSE
It is estimated that 50%-80% of patients with pediatric cancer in sub-Saharan Africa present at an advanced stage. Delays can occur at any time during the care-seeking process from symptom onset to treatment initiation. Referral delay, the time from first presentation at a health facility to oncologist evaluation, is a key component of total delay that has not been evaluated in sub-Saharan Africa.

METHODS
Over a 3-month period, caregivers of children diagnosed with cancer at a regional cancer center (Bugando Medical Centre [BMC]) in Tanzania were consecutively surveyed to determine the number and type of health facilities visited before presentation, interventions received, and transportation used to reach each facility.

RESULTS
Forty-nine caregivers were consented and included in the review. A total of 124 facilities were visited before BMC, with 31% of visits (n = 38) resulting in a referral. The median referral delay was 89 days (mean, 122 days), with a median of two facilities (mean, 2.5 facilities) visited before presentation to BMC. Visiting a traditional healer first significantly increased the time taken to reach BMC compared with starting at a health center/dispensary (103 v 236 days; P = .02). Facility visits in which a patient received a referral to a higher-level facility led to significantly decreased time to reach BMC (P < .0001). Only 36% of visits to district hospitals and 20.6% of visits to health centers/dispensaries yielded a referral, however.

CONCLUSION
The majority of patients were delayed during the referral process, but receipt of a referral to a higher-level facility significantly shortened delay time. Referral delay for pediatric patients with cancer could be decreased by raising awareness of cancer and strengthening the referral process from lower-level to higher-level facilities.

Delays in hospital admissions in patients with fractures across 18 LMIC (INORMUS): a prospective observational study

Background: The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery established the Three Delays framework, categorising delays in accessing timely surgical care into delays in seeking care (First Delay), reaching care (Second Delay), and receiving care (Third Delay). Globally, knowledge gaps regarding delays for fracture care, and the lack of large prospective studies informed the rationale for our international observational study. We investigated delays in hospital admission as a surrogate for accessing timely fracture care and explored factors associated with delayed hospital admission. Methods: In this prospective observational substudy of the ongoing International Orthopaedic Multicenter Study in Fracture Care (INORMUS), we enrolled patients with fracture across 49 hospitals in 18 low-income and middle-income countries, categorised into the regions of China, Africa, India, south and east Asia, and Latin America. Eligible patients were aged 18 years or older and had been admitted to a hospital within 3 months of sustaining an orthopaedic trauma. We collected demographic injury data and time to hospital admission. Our primary outcome was the number of patients with open and closed fractures who were delayed in their admission to a treating hospital. Delays for patients with open fractures were defined as being more than 2 h from the time of injury (in accordance with the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery) and for those with closed fractures as being a delay of more than 24 h. Secondary outcomes were reasons for delay for all patients with either open or closed fractures who were delayed for more than 24 h. We did logistic regression analyses to identify risk factors of delays of more than 2 h in patients with open fractures and delays of more than 24 h in patients with closed fractures. Logistic regressions were adjusted for region, age, employment, urban living, health insurance, interfacility referral, method of transportation, number of fractures, mechanism of injury, and fracture location. We further calculated adjusted relative risk (RR) from adjusted odds ratios, adjusted for the same variables. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02150980, and is ongoing. Findings: Between April 3, 2014, and May 10, 2019, we enrolled 31 255 patients with fractures, with a median age of 45 years (IQR 31-62), of whom 19 937 (63·8%) were men, and 14 524 (46·5%) had lower limb fractures, making them the most common fractures. Of 5256 patients with open fractures, 3778 (71·9%) were not admitted to hospital within 2 h. Of 25 999 patients with closed fractures, 7141 (27·5%) were delayed by more than 24 h. Of all regions, Latin America had the greatest proportions of patients with delays (173 [88·7%] of 195 patients with open fractures; 426 [44·7%] of 952 with closed fractures). Among patients delayed by more than 24 h, the most common reason for delays were interfacility referrals (3755 [47·7%] of 7875) and Third Delays (cumulatively interfacility referral and delay in emergency department: 3974 [50·5%]), while Second Delays (delays in reaching care) were the least common (423 [5·4%]). Compared with other methods of transportation (eg, walking, rickshaw), ambulances led to delay in transporting patients with open fractures to a treating hospital (adjusted RR 0·66, 99% CI 0·46-0·93)…(abstract continued on full journal site)