Critical care admission of South African (SA) surgical patients : results of the SA surgical outcomes study

31 Jul 2017

BACKGROUND. Appropriate critical care admissions are an important component of surgical care. However, there are few data describing postoperative critical care admission in resource-limited low- and middle-income countries. OBJECTIVE. To describe the demographics, organ failures, organ support and outcomes of non-cardiac surgical patients admitted to critical care units in South Africa (SA). METHODS. The SA Surgical Outcomes Study (SASOS) was a 7-day national, multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study of all patients ≥16 years of age undergoing inpatient non-cardiac surgery between 19 and 26 May 2014 at 50 government-funded hospitals. All patients admitted to critical care units during this study were included for analysis. RESULTS. Of the 3 927 SASOS patients, 255 (6.5%) were admitted to critical care units; of these admissions, 144 (56.5%) were planned, and 111 (43.5%) unplanned. The incidence of confirmed or strongly suspected infection at the time of admission was 35.4%, with a significantly higher incidence in unplanned admissions (49.1 v. 24.8%, p<0.001). Unplanned admission cases were more frequently hypovolaemic, had septic shock, and required significantly more inotropic, ventilatory and renal support in the first 48 hours after admission. Overall mortality was 22.4%, with unplanned admissions having a significantly longer critical care length of stay and overall mortality (33.3 v. 13.9%, p<0.001). CONCLUSION. The outcome of patients admitted to public sector critical care units in SA is strongly associated with unplanned admissions. Adequate ‘high care-dependency units’ for postoperative care of elective surgical patients could potentially decrease the burden on critical care resources in SA by 23%. This study was registered on (NCT02141867).