In-Hospital Postoperative Mortality Rates for Selected Procedures in Tanzania’s Lake Zone

Postoperative mortality rate is one of six surgical indicators identified by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery for monitoring access to high-quality surgical care. The primary aim of this study was to measure the postoperative mortality rate in Tanzania’s Lake Zone to provide a baseline for surgical strengthening efforts. The secondary aim was to measure the effect of Safe Surgery 2020, a multi-component intervention to improve surgical quality, on postoperative mortality after 10 months.

We prospectively collected data on postoperative mortality from 20 health centers, district hospitals, and regional hospitals in Tanzania’s Lake Zone over two time periods: pre-intervention (February to April 2018) and post-intervention (March to May 2019). We analyzed postoperative mortality rates by procedure type. We used logistic regression to determine the impact of Safe Surgery 2020 on postoperative mortality.

The overall average in-hospital non-obstetric postoperative mortality rate for all surgery procedures was 2.62%. The postoperative mortality rates for laparotomy were 3.92% and for cesarean delivery was 0.24%. Logistic regression demonstrated no difference in the postoperative mortality rate after the Safe Surgery 2020 intervention.

Our results inform national surgical planning in Tanzania by providing a sub-national baseline estimate of postoperative mortality rates for multiple surgical procedures and serve as a basis from which to measure the impact of future surgical quality interventions. Our study showed no improvement in postoperative mortality after implementation of Safe Surgery 2020, possibly due to low power to detect change.