Mortality in Children Under Five Receiving Nonphysician Clinician Emergency Care in Uganda.

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Emergency Medicine

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Physician Assistants Education; Clinical Supervision; Physicians, Emergency; Professional Development; Child Mortality; Human; Retrospective Design; Uganda; Multiple Logistic Regression; Chi Square Test; Odds Ratio; Child, Preschool; Infant; Child, Preschool: 2-5 years; Infant: 1-23 months


BACKGROUND: A nonphysician clinician (NPC) training program was started in Uganda in 2009. NPC care was initially supervised by a physician and subsequent care was independent. The mortality of children under 5 (U5) was analyzed to evaluate the impact of transitioning NPC care from physician-supervised to independent care. METHODS: A retrospective review was performed of a quality assurance database including 3-day follow-up for all patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). Mortality rates were calculated and χ² tests used for significance of proportions. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess independent predictors of mortality. RESULTS: Overall, 68.8% of 4985 U5 patients were admitted and 28.6% were "severely ill." The overall mortality was significantly lower in physician-supervised versus independent NPC care (2.90% vs 5.04%, P = .05). No significant mortality difference was seen between supervised and unsupervised care (2.17% vs 3.01%, P = .43) for the majority of patients that were not severely ill. Severely ill patients analyzed separately showed a significant mortality difference (4.07% vs 10.3%, P = .01). Logistic regression revealed physician supervision significantly reduced mortality for patients overall (odds ratio = 0.52, P = .03), but not for nonseverely ill patients analyzed separately (odds ratio = 0.73, P = .47). CONCLUSIONS: Though physician supervision reduced mortality for the severely ill subset of patients, physicians are not available full-time in most EDs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Training NPCs in emergency care produced noninferior mortality outcomes for unsupervised NPC care compared with physician-supervised NPC care for the majority of U5 patients.

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