Severe impact of COVID-19 pandemic on non-COVID patient care and health delivery: An observational study from a large multispecialty hospital of India

OBJECTIVES:
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted health-care delivery globally, especially for non-COVID diseases. These cases received suboptimal attention and care during the pandemic. In this observational cohort study, we have studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of medical and surgical practices.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:
This observational, cross-sectional cohort study was performed on the data of a 710 bedded, multispecialty, and tertiary care corporate hospital of the national capital of India. The data of the pandemic period (April 1, 2020–March 31, 2021) were divided into three main groups and were then compared with the patient data of the preceding non-pandemic year (April 1, 2019–March 31, 2020) of more than six hundred thousand cases.

RESULTS:
From the data of 677,237 cases in these 2 years, we found a significant effect of COVID-19 pandemic on most spheres of clinical practice (P < 0.05), including outpatient attendance and surgical work. The specialties providing critical and emergency care were less affected. Although the total hospital admissions reduced by 34.07%, these were not statistically significant (P = 0.506), as the number of COVID-19 admissions took place during this time and compensated for the drop. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted health-care delivery to non-COVID cases across all the major medical and surgical specialties. Still, major urgent surgical and interventional work for cases was undertaken with due precautions, without waiting for the ongoing pandemic to end, as the delay in their treatment could have been catastrophic.

Empanelment of health care facilities under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) in India

Introduction
India’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) is the world’s largest health assurance scheme providing health cover of 500,000 INR (about USD 6,800) per family per year. It provides financial support for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization expenses to about 500 million of India’s poorest households through various insurance models with care delivered by public and private empanelled providers. This study undertook to describe the provider empanelment of PM-JAY, a key element of its functioning and determinant of its impact.

Methods
We carried out secondary analysis of cross-sectional administrative program data publicly available in PM-JAY portal for 30 Indian states and 06 UTs. We analysed the state wise distribution, type and sector of empanelled hospitals and services offered through PM-JAY scheme across all the states and UTs.

Results
We found that out of the total facilities empanelled (N = 20,257) under the scheme in 2020, more than half (N = 11,367, 56%) were in the public sector, while 8,157 (40%) facilities were private for profit, and 733 (4%) were private not for profit entities. State wise distribution of hospitals showed that five states (Karnataka (N = 2,996, 14.9%), Gujarat (N = 2,672, 13.3%), Uttar Pradesh (N = 2,627, 13%), Tamil Nadu (N = 2315, 11.5%) and Rajasthan (N = 2,093 facilities, 10.4%) contributed to more than 60% of empanelled PMJAY facilities: We also observed that 40% of facilities were offering between two and five specialties while 14% of empanelled hospitals provided 21–24 specialties.

Conclusion
A majority of the hospital empanelled under the scheme are in states with previous experience of implementing publicly funded health insurance schemes, with the exception of Uttar Pradesh. Reasons underlying these patterns of empanelment as well as the impact of empanelment on service access, utilisation, population health and financial risk protection warrant further study. While the inclusion and regulation of the private sector is a goal that may be served by empanelment, the role of public sector remains critical, particularly in underserved areas of India.

Analysing a Global Health Education Framework for Public Health Education Programs in India

Academic global health is of increasing interest to educators and students in public health but competency domains as well as education pathways that deliver this training, are still being identified and refined. This thesis was undertaken using an education program development paradigm and aimed to analyse the factors shaping global health education in India by examining multistakeholder perspectives. The research framework consisted of four components: curriculum and content, students, faculty and key experts, and employers. Studies captured the perspectives of students through a survey and focus group discussions, faculty and other key experts through semi-structured interviews, and employers through job advertisement analysis. We identified eleven global health competency domains focussed on three aspects: foundational competencies, core public health skills and soft skills. Global health and public health were seen as interconnected, with global health having transnational context and public health having a more national focus. Global health was seen as a nascent concept in India and although integration of global health education into the public health curriculum was supported, there were concerns given that public health is still too new a discipline in India. Global health competencies were seen as a ‘step up’ from the public health competencies. Based on the results, a two-level approach to global health education is proposed for Indian public health institutions. The first approach, targeted at recent graduates, focuses on a ‘foundational global health education’ within public health programs such as an MPH. The second approach is an ‘Executive Global Health Certificate Program’, aimed at experienced public health professionals planning to enter the global health workforce. This thesis has outlined a framework for Indian and other LMIC institutions looking to expand the scope of public health education and intend to develop global health education programs.

Assessment of feasibility and acceptability of family-centered care implemented at a neonatal intensive care unit in India

Background
A family-centered care (FCC) parent participation program that ensures an infant is not separated from parents against their will was developed for the caring of their small or sick newborn at a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Delhi, India. Healthcare provider sensitization training directed at psychosocial and tangible support and an audio-visual training tool for parent-attendants were developed that included: 1) handwashing, infection prevention, protocol for entry; 2) developmentally supportive care, breastfeeding, expression of breastmilk and assisted feeding; 3) kangaroo mother care; and 4) preparation for discharge and care at home. The study aimed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of the FCC model in a NICU in India.

Methods
A prospective cohort design collected quantitative data on each parent-attendant/infant dyad at enrollment, during the NICU stay, and at discharge. Feasibility of the FCC program was measured by assessing the participation of parent-attendants and healthcare providers, and whether training components were implemented as intended. Acceptability was measured by the proportion of parent-attendants who participated in the trainings and their ability to accurately complete program activities.

Results
Of 395 NICU admissions during the study period, eligible participants included 333 parent-attendant/infant dyads, 24 doctors, and 21 nurses. Of the 1242 planned parent-attendant training sessions, 939 (75.6%) were held, indicating that program fidelity was high, and the majority of trainings were implemented as intended. While 50% of parent-attendants completed all 4 FCC training sessions, 95% completed sessions 1 and 2; 60% of the total participating parent-attendants completed session 3, and 75% completed session 4. Compliance rates were over 96% for 5 of 10 FCC parent-attendant activities, and 60 to 78% for the remaining 5 activities.

Conclusions
FCC was feasible to implement in this setting and was acceptable to participating parent-attendants and healthcare providers. Parents participated in trainings conducted by NICU providers and engaged in essential care to their infants in the NICU. A standard care approach and behavior norms for healthcare providers directed psychosocial and tangible support to parent-attendants so that a child is not separated from his or her parents against their will while receiving advanced care in the NICU.

Associations of On-arrival Vital Signs with 24-hour In-hospital Mortality in Adult Trauma Patients Admitted to Four Public University Hospitals in Urban India: A Prospective Multi-Centre Cohort Study

Abstract
Introduction: In India, more than a million people die annually due to injuries. Identifying the patients at risk of early mortality (within 24 hour of hospital arrival) is essential for triage. A bilateral Government Australia-India Trauma System Collaboration generated a trauma registry in the context of India, which yielded a cohort of trauma patients for systematic observation and interventions. The aim of this study was to determine the independent association of on-arrival vital signs and Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) with 24-hour mortality among adult trauma patients admitted at four university public hospitals in urban India.

Methods: We performed an analysis of a prospective multicentre observational study of trauma patients across four urban public university hospitals in India, between April 2016 and February 2018. The primary outcome was 24-hour in-hospital mortality. We used logistic regression to determine mutually independent associations of the vital signs and GCS with 24-hour mortality.

Results: A total of 7497 adult patients (18 years and above) were included. The 24-hour mortality was 1.9%. In univariable logistic regression, Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) and the vital signs systolic blood pressure (SBP), heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR) and peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) had statistically significant associations with 24-hour mortality. These relationships held in multivariable analysis with hypotension (SBP100bpm) and bradycardia (HR<60bpm), hypoxia (SpO220brpm) and severe (3-8) and moderate (9-12) GCS having strong association with 24-hour mortality. Notably, the patients with missing values for SBP, HR and RR also demonstrated higher odds of 24-hour mortality. The Injury Severity Scores (ISS) did not corelate with 24-hour mortality.

Conclusion: The routinely measured GCS and vital signs including SBP, HR, SpO2 and RR are independently associated with 24-hour in-hospital mortality in the context of university hospitals of urban India. These easily measured parameters in the emergency setting may help improve decision-making and guide further management in the trauma victims. A poor short-term prognosis was also observed in patients in whom these physiological variables were not recorded.

Trends and patterns of antibiotic prescribing at orthopedic inpatient departments of two private-sector hospitals in Central India: A 10-year observational study

Background
Frequent antibiotic prescribing in departments with high infection risk like orthopedics prominently contributes to the global increase of antibiotic resistance. However, few studies present antibiotic prescribing patterns and trends among orthopedic inpatients.

Aim
To compare and present the patterns and trends of antibiotic prescription over 10 years for orthopedic inpatients in a teaching (TH) and a non-teaching hospital (NTH) in Central India.

Methods
Data from orthopedic inpatients (TH-6446; NTH-4397) were collected using a prospective cross-sectional study design. Patterns were compared based on the indications and corresponding antibiotic treatments, mean Defined Daily Doses (DDD)/1000 patient-days, adherence to the National List of Essential Medicines India (NLEMI) and the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines (WHOMLEM). Antibiotic prescriptions were analyzed separately for the operated and the non-operated inpatients. Linear regression was used to analyze the time trends of antibiotic prescribing; in total through DDD/1000 patient-days and by antibiotic groups.

Results
Third generation cephalosporins were the most prescribed antibiotic class (TH-39%; NTH-65%) and fractures were the most common indications (TH-48%; NTH-48%). Majority of the operated inpatients (TH-99%; NTH-97%) were prescribed pre-operative prophylactic antibiotics. The non-operated inpatients were also prescribed antibiotics (TH-40%; NTH-75%), although few of them had infectious diagnoses (TH-8%; NTH-14%). Adherence to the NLEMI was lower (TH-31%; NTH-34%) than adherence to the WHOMLEM (TH-65%; NTH-62%) in both hospitals. Mean DDD/1000 patient-days was 16 times higher in the TH (2658) compared to the NTH (162). Total antibiotic prescribing increased over 10 years (TH-β = 3.23; NTH-β = 1.02).

Conclusion
Substantial number of inpatients were prescribed antibiotics without clear infectious indications. Adherence to the NLEMI and the WHOMLEM was low in both hospitals. Antibiotic use increased in both hospitals over 10 years and was higher in the TH than in the NTH. The need for developing and implementing local antibiotic prescribing guidelines is emphasized.

An Exploratory Qualitative Study of the Prevention of Road Trac Collisions and Neurotrauma in India: Perspectives From Key Informants in an Indian Industrial City (Visakhapatnam)

Background: Despite current preventative strategies, road traffic collisions (RTCs) and resultant neurotrauma remain a major problem in India. This study seeks to explore local perspectives in the context within which RTCs take place and identify potential suggestions for improving the current status.

Methods: Ten semi-structured interviews were carried out with purposively selected key informants from the city of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Participants were from one of the following categories: commissioning stakeholders; service providers; community or local patient group/advocacy group representatives. Transcripts from these interviews were analysed qualitatively using the Framework Method.

Results: Participants felt RTCs are a serious problem in India and a leading cause of neurotrauma. Major risk factors identified related to user behaviour such as speeding and not using personal safety equipment, and the user state, namely drink driving and underage driving. Other reported risk factors included poor infrastructure, moving obstacles on the road, overloaded vehicles and substandard safety equipment. Participants discussed how RTCs affect not only the health of the victim, but are also a burden to the healthcare system, families, and the national economy. Although there are ongoing preventative strategies being carried out by both the government and the community, challenges to successful prevention emerged from the interviews which included resource deficiencies, inconsistent implementation, lack of appropriate action, poor governance, lack of knowledge and the mindset of the community and entities involved in prevention. Recommendations were given on how prevention of RTCs and neurotrauma might be improved, addressing the areas of education and awareness, research, the pre-hospital and trauma systems, enforcement and legislation, and road engineering, in addition to building collaborations and changing mindsets.

Conclusions: RTCs remain a major problem in India and a significant cause of neurotrauma. Addressing the identified gaps and shortfalls in current approaches and reinforcing collective responsibility towards road safety would be the way forward in improving prevention and reducing the burden.

Designing for Health Accessibility: Case Studies of Human-Centered Design to Improve Access to Cervical Cancer Screening

Our world faces immense challenges in global health and equity. There continue to be huge disparities in access to health care across geographies, despite the massive strides that have been made to address health issues. In this dissertation, I explore the role of human-centered design to improve global health access and reduce disparities. Human-centered design, a cross-disciplinary creative problem-solving approach, has been applied and studied in both academic research and practice, but its role in improving global health access remains poorly understood.

In this dissertation, I present research on designing for health accessibility in the context of one particular disease: cervical cancer. Every year, 300,000 women around the world die of cervical cancer and ninety percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Cervical cancer is an illustrative example of the global disparities in access to health care, given that cervical cancer is preventable and the majority of global cervical cancer mortality is in low- and middle-income countries.

My research examines the work of two organizations that created unique solutions to improve access to cervical cancer screening in India and Nicaragua. I develop case studies of each organization grounded in ethnographic fieldwork, including over 250 hours of observation and 15 interviews over two years. Through these case studies, I show how early efforts to understand the barriers inhibiting cervical cancer screening access allow design practitioners to create novel and feasible ways to address these barriers. This demonstrates the importance of design practitioners considering multiple dimensions of accessibility, including availability, physical accessibility, accommodation, affordability, and acceptability, while conducting design research in order to improve the potential impact of their ideas and prototypes. Overall, this dissertation establishes the foundation of a new paradigm to “design for accessibility” that can inspire further application and research across sectors to address the many social equity and accessibility challenges facing our world.

An Analysis of 30-Day in-Hospital Trauma Mortality in Four Urban University Hospitals Using the Australia India Trauma Registry

Background
India has one-sixth (16%) of the world’s population but more than one-fifth (21%) of the world’s injury mortality. A trauma registry established by the Australia India Trauma Systems Collaboration (AITSC) Project was utilized to study 30-day in-hospital trauma mortality at high-volume Indian hospitals.

Methods
The AITSC Project collected data prospectively between April 2016 and March 2018 at four Indian university hospitals in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad. Patients admitted with an injury mechanism of road or rail-related injury, fall, assault, or burns were included. The associations between demographic, physiological on-admission vitals, and process-of-care parameters with early (0–24 h), delayed (1–7 days), and late (8–30 days) in-hospital trauma mortality were analyzed.

Results
Of 9354 patients in the AITSC registry, 8606 were subjected to analysis. The 30-day mortality was 12.4% among all trauma victims. Early (24-h) mortality was 1.9%, delayed (1–7 days) mortality was 7.3%, and late (8–30 days) mortality was 3.2%. Abnormal physiological parameters such as a low SBP, SpO2, and GCS and high HR and RR were observed among non-survivors. Early initiation of trauma assessment and monitoring on arrival was an important process of care indicator for predicting 30-day survival.

Conclusions
One in ten admitted trauma patients (12.4%) died in urban trauma centers in India. More than half of the trauma deaths were delayed, beyond 24 h but within one week following injury. On-admission physiological vital signs remain a valid predictor of early 24-h trauma mortality.

Safe Laparoscopy in Low and Middle Income Countries by reducing Surgical Site Infections through Laparoscopic Instrument Cleaning

Access to safe and affordable surgery is nothing short of a basic human right and people from all walks of life are entitled to it. But, five people from resource-constrained low and middle-income countries are vulnerable and left to fend for themselves when the need for surgery is a life governing event. Inhabitants of these regions are scourged by high mortality and morbidity due to surgical infection caused by the use of unclean and unsterile surgical instruments. Reduction in infections can be achieved by using clean and sterile surgical instruments. Laparoscopy, is a promising technique of surgery developed to efficiently perform complex abdominal surgeries with the use of small and minimum incisions on the patient. Laparoscopy’s minimally invasive nature allows complex surgeries to take place without the need of an absolutely sterile operating room, although the sterility of the surgical instruments cannot be compromised. The added benefit of faster recovery from smaller wounds makes it even more desirable for this context. The Minimally Invasive Surgery and Interventional Techniques Lab of the TU Delft has initiated projects addressing the health and well-being of resource-constrained, underdeveloped communities like rural India through frugal innovation. Rural Indian hospitals are grossly underfunded, under-maintained, and understaffed. Sterile processing practices in rural India are rudimentary compared to high-income hospitals like the ones in the Netherlands. In high-income hospitals, all used surgical instruments are cleaned and sterilized in dedicated central sterile processing departments (CSSD) by highly trained and well protected sterile processing technicians. However, rural India usually employs small teams of local undertrained and semi-literate nurses to carry out every primary and ancillary duty in the hospital. The lack of dedicated CSSDs exacerbates the nurse’s workload and exposure to harmful pathogenic surgical instruments. Laparoscopic instruments developed in high-income nations are seldom designed keeping low resource contexts in mind. The geometrical complexity of instruments keeps increasing but cleaning methods in rural India have stagnated. Resource constraints are a major reason as to why proper international and national guidelines for reprocessing cannot be followed. Hence hospitals cannot guarantee 100% safe and sterile instruments as compared so standardized outcomes in high-income hospitals. In this graduation project, the distinct reprocessing journey of surgical instruments for the two diverse economic contexts were studied. A comparative analysis of both reprocessing journeys uncovered severe unsafe and unfavorable practices in rural India. Significant data and insights from the research have hence paved the way for focusing on the “Cleaning” stage of the laparoscopic instrument reprocessing journey in rural India. This MSc graduation project aims at designing a frugal solution for cleaning and repurposing laparoscopic instruments, dedicated to hospitals in rural India where the demand for laparoscopy is high but surgeries are less due to resource constraints like lack of laparoscopic instruments and repurposing devices. The involvement of an Indian nurse and laparoscopic surgeon provided first-hand information about the problems and requirements in the rural Indian context. Prototyping and testing of various cleaning setups were conducted to extract the most viable design solution. Insights from the research and testing were combined into the concept design of a frugal mechanical washer and subsequently an “Envisioned Reprocessing Journey” for rural Indian hospitals to suggest a standard protocol for keeping most of their existing infrastructure in mind. Evaluations with the Indian nurse revealed that this device could indeed be a game-changer to the existing practices of reprocessing laparoscopic instruments in rural India.