Publications by authors named "Jared R Gallaher"

25 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Time to Cannulation after ICU Admission Increases Mortality for Patients Requiring Veno-Venous ECMO for COVID-19 Associated Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Ann Surg 2020 Dec 22. Epub 2020 Dec 22.

*University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Division of Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, Chapel Hill, NC †University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine ‡University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC §University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Division of Acute Care Surgery, Department of General Surgery, Chapel Hill, NC.

Objective: COVID-19 can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that is rapidly progressive, severe, and refractory to conventional therapies. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be used as a supportive therapy to improve outcomes but evidence-based guidelines have not been defined.

Summary Background Data: Initial mortality rates associated with ECMO for ARDS in COVID-19 were high, leading some to believe that there was no role for ECMO in this viral illness. With more experience, outcomes have improved. The ideal candidate, timing of cannulation, and best post-cannulation management strategy, however, has not yet been defined.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review from April 1 to July 31 2020 of the first 25 patients with COVID-19 associated ARDS placed on V-V ECMO at our institution. We analyzed the differences between survivors to hospital discharge and those who died. Modified Poisson regression was used to model adjusted risk factors for mortality.

Results: 44% of patients (11/25) survived to hospital discharge. Survivors were significantly younger (40.5 years vs. 53.1 years; p < 0.001) with no differences between cohorts in mean body mass index, diabetes, or PaO2:FiO2 at cannulation. Survivors had shorter duration from symptom onset to cannulation (12.5 days vs. 19.9 days, p = 0.028) and shorter duration of intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS) prior to cannulation (5.6 days vs. 11.7 days, p = 0.045). Each day from ICU admission to cannulation increased the adjusted risk of death by 4% and each year increase in age increased the adjusted risk 6%.

Conclusions: ECMO has a role in severe, refractory ARDS associated with COVID-19. Increasing age and time from ICU admission were risk factors for mortality and should be considered in patient selection. Further studies are needed to define best practices for V-V ECMO use in COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000004683DOI Listing
December 2020

The role of endoscopy after upper gastrointestinal bleeding in sub-Saharan Africa: A prospective observational cohort study.

Malawi Med J 2020 09;32(3):139-145

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Background: Upper gastrointestinal (UGI) bleed is a common surgical disease in sub-Saharan Africa where there is often a lack of diagnostic and interventional adjuncts such as endoscopy. This study sought to characterize the role of endoscopy in management of acute UGI bleeding.

Materials And Methods: This is a prospective observational analysis of adults presenting with an UGI bleed to a tertiary center in Lilongwe, Malawi, over two years. Patients were classified as having no endoscopy, diagnostic endoscopy, or endoscopy with variceal banding. Bivariate, survival analysis, and logistic regression analyses were used to compare intervention cohorts.

Results: 293 patients were included with 49 patients (16.7%) receiving endoscopy with banding, 65 (22.2%) patients receiving diagnostic endoscopy only, and 179 (61.1%) receiving no endoscopy. Upon survival analysis comparing to the no endoscopy group, cox hazard modelling showed an adjusted hazard ratio over 30 days of 0.12 (95% CI 0.02, 0.88, p=0.038) for the endoscopic banding group and a hazard ratio of 0.39 (95% CI 0.13, 1.16, p=0.090) for the diagnostic endoscopy only group. Physical exam findings consistent with cirrhosis and decreasing age were independent predictors of an endoscopic diagnosis of variceal bleeding.

Conclusion: Esophagogastric varices are a common cause of UGI bleeding in sub-Saharan Africa and can be predicted with age and physical exam findings. Endoscopy with variceal banding has a survival benefit for patients presenting with acute UGI bleed even with relatively low utilization. Appropriately triaging patients with likely variceal bleeding and improving endoscopy capacity would likely have a significant impact on mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mmj.v32i3.6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7812143PMC
September 2020

Trends in head injury associated mortality in Malawi.

Injury 2020 Dec 31. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi.

Background: To address the problem of surgical workforce deficiencies in Malawi, we partnered with local institutions to establish a surgical residency-training and educational program for local surgeons in 2009. While this program has improved trauma-associated outcomes, it is unclear whether, without additional system improvements, the management of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has similarly advanced. This study sought to describe trends of TBI-associated in-hospital trauma mortality at a tertiary trauma center in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of all patients recorded in the Kamuzu Central Hospital trauma surveillance registry in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 2012 through 2017. Modified Poisson regression modeling was used to compare the risk ratio of TBI associated in-hospital death each year compared to the year 2012, after adjusting for relevant covariates.

Results: 87,295 patients were recorded into the KCH Trauma Registry. 3,393 patients with TBI were identified, and most TBI patients were young males. In 2013 (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.48, 0.92) and 2014 (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.41, 0.79), the adjusted risk ratio of in-hospital death decreased compared to 2012 when adjusted for age, sex, initial AVPU score, transfer status, and multisystem trauma. However, the adjusted risk ratio of mortality in 2015 (0.73, 95% CI 0.53, 1.02) plateaued, with relatively minor improvements in 2016 (0.72, 95% CI 0.54, 0.97) and 2017 (0.71, 95% CI 0.53, 0.96).

Conclusions: A decrease in TBI associated mortality was associated with the establishment of a residency and educational training program for general surgery. This program increased available surgeons, improved critical care and trauma training, and integrated some neurosurgical training. However, improvements in outcomes plateaued in the last few years of the study, despite these enhancements to surgical care. The general surgery workforce must be supplemented with improved neurosurgical services and neurocritical care to decrease TBI-related mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2020.12.031DOI Listing
December 2020

Predictors of multi-drug resistance in burn wound colonization following burn injury in a resource-limited setting.

Burns 2020 Dec 10. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi. Electronic address:

Introduction: Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is growing dramatically worldwide due to several contributing factors, including inappropriate antibiotic utilization in the clinical setting and widespread use in the food production industry. Consequently, it is imperative to characterize antibiotic resistance in high-risk populations, such as burn patients, particularly in resource-limited settings where prevention strategies may be high-yield and new antibiotics are not readily available. We therefore sought to characterize and identify predictors of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria colonization in burn patients at our center in Malawi.

Methods: This is a prospective analysis of burn patients presenting to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi within 72 h of burn injury. A swab of each patient's primary wound was collected at admission and each subsequent week. The primary aim was to determine predictors of colonization in burn wounds with multi-drug resistant bacteria using modified Poisson regression modeling.

Results: 99 patients were enrolled and analyzed. The median age was 4 years (IQR 2-12) with a median % total burn surface area (TBSA) of 14% (IQR 9-25). The most common burn injury type was scald (n = 61, 61.6%), followed by flame (n = 37, 37.4%). Overall, 54 patients (54.6%) were colonized with MDR bacteria at some point during their hospitalization, with increases each week. For flame burns, the predictors of MDR bacterial colonization were each 1% increase of %TBSA (RR 1.01, 95% CI 1.00, 1.03, p = 0.038) and the use of operative intervention for burn treatment (RR 1.90, 95% CI 1.17, 3.09, p = 0.010). No variables were predictive of MDR wound colonization in scald burns.

Conclusion: Our study identified that almost half of the patients in a Malawian burn unit had MDR bacteria colonizing burn wounds after only a week in the hospital. This increased to almost 70% during hospitalization. We also found that for patients with flame burns, increasing %TBSA, and operative intervention put patients at greater risk of MDR colonization. Interventions such as isolation of burn patients, consistent disinfection and sterilization of wards and operating rooms, and optimization of wound care management are imperative to decrease spread of MDR bacteria and to improve burn-associated clinical outcomes in resource-limited environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2020.12.007DOI Listing
December 2020

Underutilization of Operative Capacity at the District Hospital Level in a Resource-Limited Setting.

J Surg Res 2021 Mar 3;259:130-136. Epub 2020 Dec 3.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Salima District Hospital, Salima, Malawi.

Introduction: Improving surgical care in a resource-limited setting requires the optimization of operative capacity, especially at the district hospital level.

Methods: We conducted an analysis of the acute care surgery registry at Salima District Hospital in Malawi from June 2018 to November 2019. We examined patient characteristics, interventions, and outcomes. Modified Poisson regression modeling was used to identify risk factors for transfer to a tertiary center and mortality of patients transferred to the tertiary center.

Results: Eight hundred eighty-eight patients were analyzed. The most common diagnosis was skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI) at 35.9%. 27.5% of patients were transferred to Salima District Hospital, primarily from health centers, with a third for a diagnosis of SSTI. Debridement of SSTI comprised 59% of performed procedures (n = 241). Of the patients that required exploratory laparotomy, only 11 laparotomies were performed, with 59 patients transferred to a tertiary hospital. The need for laparotomy conferred an adjusted risk ratio (RR) of 10.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 7.1, 14.3) for transfer to the central hospital. At the central hospital, for patients who needed urgent abdominal exploration, surgery had a 0.16 RR of mortality (95% CI 0.05, 0.50) while time to evaluation greater than 48 h at the central hospital had a 2.81 RR of death (95% CI 1.19, 6.66).

Conclusions: Despite available capacity, laparotomy was rarely performed at this district hospital, and delays in care led to a higher mortality. Optimization of the district and health center surgical ecosystems is imperative to improve surgical access in Malawi and improve patient outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2020.11.031DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7897230PMC
March 2021

The effect of burn mechanism on pediatric mortality in Malawi: A propensity weighted analysis.

Burns 2021 Feb 1;47(1):222-227. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States; Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi. Electronic address:

Introduction: The burden of global trauma disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries, with a high incidence in children. Thermal injury represents one of the most severe forms of trauma and is associated with remarkable morbidity and mortality. The predictors of burn mortality have been well described (age, % total body surface area burn [TBSA], and presence of inhalation injury). However, the contribution of the burn mechanism as a predictor of burn mortality is not well delineated.

Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data, utilizing the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Burn Surveillance Registry from May 2011 to August 2019. Pediatric patients (≤12 years) with flame and scald burns were included in the study. Basic demographic variables including sex, age, time to presentation, %TBSA, surgical intervention, burn mechanism, and in-hospital mortality outcome was collected. Bivariate analysis comparing demographic, burn characteristics, surgical intervention, and patient outcomes were performed. Standardized estimates were adjusted using inverse-probability of treatment weights (IPTW) to account for confounding. Following weighting, logistic regression modeling was performed to determine the odds of in-hospital mortality based on burn mechanism.

Results: During the study period, 2364 patients presented to KCH for burns and included in the database with 1794 (75.9%) pediatric patients. Of these, 488 (27.6%) and 1280 (72.4%) were injured by flame and scald burns, respectively. Males were 47.2% (n = 230) and 59.2% (n = 755) of the flame and scald burn cohorts, respectively (p < 0.001.) Patients presenting with flame burns compared to scald burns were older (4. 7 ± 3.1 vs. 2.7 ± 2.3 years, p < 0.001) with greater %TBSA burns (17.8 [IQR 10-28] vs 12 [IQR 7-20], p < 0.001). Surgery was performed for 42.2% (n = 206) and 19.9% (n = 140) of the flame and scald burn cohorts, respectively (p < 0.001.) Flame burns had a 2.6x greater odds of in-hospital mortality compared to scald burns (p < 0.001) after controlling for sex, %TBSA, age, time to presentation, and surgical status.

Conclusion: In this propensity-weighted analysis, we show that burn mechanism, specifically flame burns, resulted in a nearly 3-fold increase in odds of in-hospital mortality compared to scald burns. Our results emphasize flame and scald burns have major differences in the inflammatory response, metabolic profile over time, and outcomes. We may further utilize these differences to develop specialized treatments for each burn mechanism to potentially prevent metabolic dysfunction and improve clinical outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2019.12.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7855906PMC
February 2021

Access to Operative Intervention Reduces Mortality in Adult Burn Patients in a Resource-Limited Setting in Sub-Saharan Africa.

World J Surg 2020 Nov 14;44(11):3629-3635. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, 4006 Burnett Womack Building CB 7228, Chapel Hill, USA.

Introduction: Early excision and grafting remains the standard of care after burn injury. However, in a resource-limited setting, operative capacity often limits patient access to surgical intervention. This study sought to describe access to excision and grafting for adult burn patients in a sub-Saharan African burn unit and its relationship with burn-associated mortality.

Methods: We analyzed patients recorded in the Kamuzu Central Hospital Burn Registry in Lilongwe, Malawi from 2011-2019. We examined patient characteristics, interventions, and outcomes for adults aged ≥16 years. Modified Poisson regression modeling was used to identify risk factors for mortality.

Results: Five hundred and seventy-three patients were included. Median age was 30 years (IQR 23-40) with a male preponderance (63%). Median percent total body surface area burned (%TBSA) was 15% (IQR 8-26) and 68% of burns were caused by flame. 27% (n = 154) had burn excision with skin grafting, with a median time to operation of 18 days (IQR 9-38). When adjusted for age, %TBSA, and time to presentation, operative intervention conferred a survival benefit for patients with flame burns with a RR 0.16 (95% CI 0.06, 0.42).

Conclusions: In a resource-limiting setting, access to the operating room is inadequate, and burn patients are not prioritized. While many scald burn patients may be managed with wound care alone, patients with flame burn require surgical intervention to improve clinical outcomes. Burn injury in this region continues to confer a high risk of mortality, and more investment in operative capacity is imperative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00268-020-05684-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7529988PMC
November 2020

The effect of traditional healer intervention prior to allopathic care on pediatric burn mortality in Malawi.

Burns 2020 12 21;46(8):1952-1957. Epub 2020 Jun 21.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi. Electronic address:

Introduction: Burn injury is a significant contributor to mortality, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Patients in many communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa use traditional health practitioners for burn care prior to seeking evaluation at an allopathic burn center. The World Health Organization defines a traditional health practitioner as "a person who is recognized by the community where he or she lives as someone competent to provide health care by using plant, animal and mineral substances and other methods based on social, cultural and religious practices based on indigenous knowledge and belief system." The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of prior traditional health practitioner treatment and assess its effect on burn injury mortality.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of the prospectively collected Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Burn Surveillance Registry was performed from January 2009 through July 2017. Pediatric patients (<13 years) who were injured with flame or scald burns were included in the study and we compared groups based on patient or family reported use of traditional health practitioners prior to evaluation at Kamuzu Central Hospital. We used propensity score weighted multivariate logistic regression to identify the association with mortality after visiting a traditional healer prior to hospitalization.

Results: 1689 patients were included in the study with a mean age of 3.3 years (SD 2.7) and 55.9% were male. Mean percent total body surface area of burn was 16.4% (SD 12.5%) and most burns were related to scald injuries (72.4%). 184 patients (10.9%) used traditional medicine prior to presentation. Only a delay in presentation was associated with prior traditional health practitioner use. After propensity weighted score matching, the odds ratio of mortality after using a prior traditional health practitioner was 1.91 (95% CI 1.09, 3.33).

Conclusion: The use of traditional health practitioners prior to presentation at a tertiary burn center is associated with an increased odds of mortality after burn injury. These effects may be independent of the potential harms associated with a delay in definitive care. Further work is needed to delineate strategies for integrating with local customs and building improved networks for burn care, especially in rural areas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2020.06.013DOI Listing
December 2020

Secondary Overtriage of Trauma Patients to a Central Hospital in Malawi.

World J Surg 2020 06;44(6):1727-1735

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 4008 Burnett Womack Building, CB 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.

Introduction: Secondary overtriage (OT) is the unnecessary transfer of injured patients between facilities. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which shoulder the greatest burden of trauma globally, the impact of wasted resources on an overburdened system is high. This study determined the rate and associated characteristics of OT at a Malawian central hospital.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from January 2012 through July 2017 was performed at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, Malawi. Patients were considered OT if they were discharged alive within 48 h without undergoing a procedure, and were not severely injured or in shock on arrival. Factors evaluated for association with OT included patient demographics, injury characteristics, and transferring facility information.

Results: Of 80,915 KCH trauma patients, 15,422 (19.1%) transferred from another facility. Of these, 8703 (56.2%) were OT. OT patients were younger (median 15, IQR: 6-31 versus median 26, IQR: 11-38, p < 0.001). Patients with primary extremity injury (5308, 59.9%) were overtriaged more than those with head injury (1991, 51.8%) or torso trauma (1349, 50.8%), p < 0.001. The OT rate was lower at night (18.9% v 28.7%, p < 0.001) and similar on weekends (20.4% v 21.8%, p = 0.03). OT was highest for penetrating wounds, bites, and falls; burns were the lowest. In multivariable modeling, risk of OT was greatest for burns and soft tissue injuries.

Conclusions: The majority of trauma patients who transfer to KCH are overtriaged. Implementation of transfer criteria, trauma protocols, and interhospital communication can mitigate the strain of OT in resource-limited settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00268-020-05426-0DOI Listing
June 2020

Diurnal variation in trauma mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: A proxy for health care system maturity.

Injury 2020 Jan 9;51(1):97-102. Epub 2019 Nov 9.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Globally, traumatic injury is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in low-income countries. However, trauma centers in these environments have limited resources to manage complex trauma with minimal staffing and diagnostic tools. These limitations may be exacerbated at night. We hypothesized that there is an increase in trauma-associated mortality for patients presenting during nighttime hours.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of all patients recorded in the Kamuzu Central Hospital trauma registry in Lilongwe, Malawi from January 2012 through December 2016. Nighttime was defined as 18:00 until 5:59. Patients brought in dead were excluded. A modified Poisson regression model was used to calculate the relationship between presentation at night and mortality, adjusted for significant confounders.

Results: 74,500 patients were included. During the day, crude mortality was 0.8% compared to 1.4% at night (p < 0.001). The risk ratio of mortality following night time presentation compared to day was 1.90 (95% CI 1.48, 2.42) when adjusted for injury severity, assessed by the Malawi Trauma Score (MTS), and transfer status. When stratified by the year of traumatic injury, the risk ratio of death decreased each year from 2012-2014 but increased in 2015. There was no difference in 2016.

Conclusions: We report the first description of diurnal variation in trauma-associated mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Injured patients who presented at night had nearly twice the adjusted risk ratio of death compared to patients that presented during the daytime although there were yearly differences. Diurnal variation in trauma-associated mortality is a simple but important indicator of the maturity of a trauma system and should be tracked for health care system improvement.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2019.11.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6939627PMC
January 2020

Interpersonal violence in peacetime Malawi.

Trauma Surg Acute Care Open 2018 27;3(1):e000252. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Background: The contribution of interpersonal violence (IPV) to trauma burden varies greatly by region. The high rates of IPV in sub-Saharan Africa are thought to relate in part to the high rates of collective violence. Malawi, a country with no history of internal collective violence, provides an excellent setting to evaluate whether collective violence drives the high rates of IPV in this region.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of a prospective trauma registry from 2009 through 2016 at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Adult (>16 years) victims of IPV were compared with non-intentional trauma victims. Log binomial regression determined factors associated with increased risk of mortality for victims of IPV.

Results: Of 72 488 trauma patients, 25 008 (34.5%) suffered IPV. Victims of IPV were more often male (80.2% vs. 74.8%; p<0.001), younger (median age: 28 years (IQR: 23-34) vs. 30 years (IQR: 24-39); p<0.001), and were more often admitted at night (47.4% vs. 31.9%; p<0.001). Of the IPV victims, 16.5% admitted alcohol use, compared with only 4.4% in other trauma victims (p<0.001). In regression modeling, compared with extremity injuries, head injuries (3.14, 2.24-4.39; p<0.001) and torso injuries (4.32, 2.98-6.27; p<0.001) had increased risk of mortality. Compared with other or unknown mechanisms, penetrating injuries also had increased risk of mortality (1.46, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.81, p=0.001). Alcohol use was associated with a lower risk of mortality (0.54, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.75; p<0.001).

Discussion: Even in a sub-Saharan country that never experienced internal collective violence, IPV injury rates are high. Public health efforts to measure and address alcohol use, and studies to determine the role of "mob justice," poverty, and intimate partner violence in IPV, in Malawi are needed.

Level Of Evidence: Level III.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tsaco-2018-000252DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326358PMC
December 2018

Colonization with Multidrug-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae is Associated with Increased Mortality Following Burn Injury in Sub-Saharan Africa.

World J Surg 2018 10;42(10):3089-3096

Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Background: Multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria are an emerging international concern in low- and middle-income countries that threaten recent public health gains. These challenges are exacerbated in immunocompromised hosts, such as those with burn injury. This study sought to describe the epidemiology and associated clinical outcomes of burn wound colonization in a Malawian tertiary burn center.

Methods: This is a prospective analysis of burn patients presenting to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, within 72 h of burn injury. A swab of each patient's primary wound was collected at admission and each subsequent week. The primary exposure was burn wound colonization with MDR bacteria, particularly Enterobacteriaceae. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. A log binomial model estimated the association between the exposure and outcome, adjusted for confounders.

Results: Ninety-nine patients were enrolled with a median age of 4 years (IQR 2-12) and a male preponderance (54%). Median total body surface area burn (TBSA) was 14% (IQR 9-25), and crude in-hospital mortality was 19%. Enterobacteriaceae were the most common MDR bacteria with 36% of patients becoming colonized. Wound colonization with MDR Enterobacteriaceae was associated with increased in-hospital mortality with a risk ratio of 1.86 (95% CI 1.38, 2.50, p < 0.001) adjusted for TBSA, burn type (scald vs. flame), sex, age, length of stay, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization.

Conclusion: MDR bacteria, especially Enterobacteriaceae, are common and are associated with worse burn injury outcomes. In resource-poor environments, a greater emphasis on prevention of MDR bacterial colonization, improved isolation precautions, affordable diagnostics, and antibiotic stewardship are imperative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00268-018-4633-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128739PMC
October 2018

Task Shifting: The Use of Laypersons for Acquisition of Vital Signs Data for Clinical Decision Making in the Emergency Room Following Traumatic Injury.

World J Surg 2017 12;41(12):3066-3073

UNC Project, Lilongwe, Malawi.

Importance: In resource-limited settings, identification of successful and sustainable task-shifting interventions is important for improving care.

Objective: To determine whether the training of lay people to take vital signs as trauma clerks is an effective and sustainable method to increase availability of vital signs in the initial evaluation of trauma patients.

Design: We conducted a quasi-experimental study of patients presenting with traumatic injury pre- and post-intervention.

Setting: The study was conducted at Kamuzu Central Hospital, a tertiary care referral hospital, in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Participants: All adult (age ≥ 18 years) trauma patients presenting to emergency department over a six-month period from January to June prior to intervention (2011), immediately post-intervention (2012), 1 year post-intervention (2013) and 2 years post-intervention (2014).

Intervention: Lay people were trained to take and record vital signs.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The number of patients with recorded vital signs pre- and post-intervention and sustainability of the intervention as determined by time-series analysis.

Results: Availability of vital signs on initial evaluation of trauma patients increased significantly post-intervention. The percentage of patients with at least one vital sign recorded increased from 23.5 to 92.1%, and the percentage of patients with all vital signs recorded increased from 4.1 to 91.4%. Availability of Glasgow Coma Scale also increased from 40.3 to 88.6%. Increased documentation of vital signs continued at 1 year and 2 years post-intervention. However, the percentage of documented vital signs did decrease slightly after the US-trained medical student and surgeon who trained the trauma clerks were no longer available in country, except for Glasgow Coma Scale. Patients who died during emergency department evaluation were significantly less likely to have vital signs recorded.

Conclusions And Relevance: The training of lay people to collect vital signs and Glasgow Coma Scale is an effective and sustainable method of task shifting in a resource-limited setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00268-017-4121-5DOI Listing
December 2017

Consequences of centralised blood bank policies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lancet Glob Health 2017 02;5(2):e131-e132

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 7728, USA; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(16)30364-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6858061PMC
February 2017

Mortality After Peritonitis in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Issue of Access to Care.

JAMA Surg 2017 04;152(4):408-410

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill2Department of Surgery, North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill3Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamasurg.2016.4638DOI Listing
April 2017

Injury Characteristics and Outcomes in Elderly Trauma Patients in Sub-Saharan Africa.

World J Surg 2016 Nov;40(11):2650-2657

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Background: Traumatic injury in the elderly is an emerging global problem with an associated increase in morbidity and mortality. This study sought to describe the epidemiology of elderly injury and outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of adult patients (≥ 18 years) with traumatic injuries presenting to the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, Malawi, over 5 years (2009-2013). Elderly patients were defined as adults aged ≥65 years and compared to adults aged 18-44 and 45-64 years. We used propensity score matching and logistic regression to compare the odds of mortality between age groups using the youngest age group as the reference.

Results: 42,816 Adult patients with traumatic injuries presented to KCH during the study period. 1253 patients (2.9 %) were aged ≥65 years with a male preponderance (77.4 %). Injuries occurred more often at home as age increased (25.3, 29.5, 41.1 %, p < 0.001) and falls were more common (14.1, 23.8, 36.3 %, p < 0.001) for elderly patients. Elderly age was associated with a higher proportion of hospital admissions (10.6, 21.3, 35.2 %, p < 0.001). Upon propensity score matching and logistic regression analysis, the odds ratio of mortality for patients aged ≥65 was 3.15 (95 % CI 1.45, 6.82, p = 0.0037) compared to the youngest age group (18-44 years).

Conclusions: Elderly trauma in a resource-poor area in sub-Saharan Africa is associated with a significant increase in hospital admissions and mortality. Significant improvements in trauma systems, pre-hospital care, and hospital capacity for older, critically ill patients are imperative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00268-016-3622-yDOI Listing
November 2016

Sub-Saharan African hospitals have a unique opportunity to address intentional injury to children.

Afr J Emerg Med 2016 Jun 13;6(2):59-60. Epub 2016 May 13.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 4008 Burnett Womack Building, CB 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.afjem.2016.05.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6233245PMC
June 2016

Damage control operations in non-trauma patients: defining criteria for the staged rapid source control laparotomy in emergency general surgery.

World J Emerg Surg 2016 24;11:10. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

Department of Surgery, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC USA.

Background: The staged laparotomy in the operative management of emergency general surgery (EGS) patients is an extension of trauma surgeons operating on this population. Indications for its application, however, are not well defined, and are currently based on the lethal triad used in physiologically-decompensated trauma patients. This study sought to determine the acute indications for the staged, rapid source control laparotomy (RSCL) in EGS patients.

Methods: All EGS patients undergoing emergent staged RSCL and non-RSCL over 3 years were studied. Demographics, physiologic parameters, perioperative variables, outcomes, and survival were compared. Logistic regression models determined the influence of physiologic parameters on mortality and postoperative complications. EGS-RSCL indications were defined.

Results: 215 EGS patients underwent emergent laparotomy; 53 (25 %) were staged RSCL. In the 53 patients who underwent a staged RSCL based on the lethal triad, adjusted multivariable regression analysis shows that when used alone, no component of the lethal triad independently improved survival. Staged RSCL may decrease mortality in patients with preoperative severe sepsis / septic shock, and an elevated lactate (≥3); acidosis (pH ≤ 7.25); elderly (≥70); male gender; and multiple comorbidities (≥3). Of the 162 non-RSCL emergent laparotomies, 27 (17 %) required unplanned re-explorations; of these, 17 (63 %) had sepsis preoperatively and 9 (33 %) died.

Conclusions: The acute physiologic indicators that help guide operative decisions in trauma may not confer a similar survival advantage in EGS. To replace the lethal triad, criteria for application of the staged RSCL in EGS need to be defined. Based on these results, the indications should include severe sepsis / septic shock, lactate, acidosis, gender, age, and pre-existing comorbidities. When correctly applied, the staged RSCL may help to improve survival in decompensated EGS patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13017-016-0067-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4765073PMC
February 2016

Intentional injury against children in Sub-Saharan Africa: A tertiary trauma centre experience.

Injury 2016 Apr 9;47(4):837-41. Epub 2015 Nov 9.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC CB# 7228, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi; North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC CB# 7600, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Intentional injuries are the result of violence. This is an important public health issue, particularly in children, and is an unaddressed problem in sub-Saharan Africa. This study sought to describe the characteristics of intentional injury, particularly physical abuse, in children presenting to our tertiary trauma centre in Lilongwe, Malawi and how they compare to children with unintentional injuries.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of children (<18 years old) with traumatic injuries presenting to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, Malawi from 2009 to 2013 was performed. Children with intentional and unintentional injuries were compared with bivariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression modelling.

Results: 67,672 patients with traumatic injuries presented to KCH of which 24,365 were children. 1976 (8.1%) patients presented with intentional injury. Intentional injury patients had a higher mean age (11.1 ± 5.0 vs. 7.1 ± 4.6, p<0.001), a greater male preponderance (72.5 vs. 63.6%, p<0.001), were more often injured at night (38.3 vs. 20.7%, p<0.001), and alcohol was more often involved (7.8 vs. 1.0%, p<0.001). Multivariate logistic regression modelling showed that increasing age, male gender, and nighttime or urban setting for injury were associated with increased odds of intentional injury. Soft tissue injuries were more common in intentional injury patients (80.5 vs. 45.4%, p<0.001) and fist punches were the most common weapon (25.6%). Most patients were discharged in both groups (89.2 vs 80.9%, p<0.001) and overall mortality was lower for intentional injury patients (0.9 vs. 1.2%, p=0.001). Head injury was the most common cause of death (43.8 vs. 32.2%, p<0.001) in both groups.

Conclusions: Sub-Saharan African tertiary hospitals are uniquely positioned to play a pivotal role in the identification, clinical management, and alleviation of intentional injuries to children by facilitating access to social services and through prevention efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2015.10.072DOI Listing
April 2016

Timing of early excision and grafting following burn in sub-Saharan Africa.

Burns 2015 Sep 15;41(6):1353-9. Epub 2015 Jun 15.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi; North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, School of Medicine, CB# 7600, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address:

Background: This study sought to establish appropriate timing of burn wound excision and grafting in a resource-poor setting in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: All burn patients (905 patients) admitted to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Burn Unit in Lilongwe, Malawi over three years (2011-2014) were studied.

Results: 275 patients (30%) had an operation during their admission. In patients who received an operation, median age was 5 years (IQR, 2.7-19) and median total body surface area burn was 15% (IQR, 8-25). 91 patients (33%) had early excision (≤5 days) and 184 patients (67%) had late excision (>5 days). Mortality was significantly greater in the early group (25.3% vs. 9.2%, p=0.001). Controlling for total body surface area burn and age, the adjusted predictive probability of mortality were 0.256 (CI 0.159-0.385) and 0.107 (CI 0.062-0.177) if operated ≤5 and >5 days, respectively (p=0.0114). The odds ratio for mortality if operated >5 days is 0.34 (CI 0.15-0.79, p<0.000).

Conclusions: Early excision and grafting in a resource-poor area in sub-Saharan Africa is associated with a significant increase in mortality. Delaying the timing of early excision and grafting of burn patients in a resource-poor setting past burn day 5 may confer a survival advantage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.burns.2015.02.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5171218PMC
September 2015

Burn care delivery in a sub-saharan african unit: A cost analysis study.

Int J Surg 2015 Jul 19;19:116-20. Epub 2015 May 19.

Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7228, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Department of Surgery, Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi; North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, Department of Surgery, University of North, Carolina School of Medicine, CB# 7600, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address:

Introduction: There are significant resource challenges to burn surgical care delivery in low and middle-income countries at baseline and only a few burn cost analysis studies from sub-Saharan Africa have been performed.

Methods: This is a retrospective database analysis of prospectively collected data from all patients recorded in the burn registry between June 2011 and August 2014 located at the Kamuzu Central Hospital Burn Unit in Lilongwe, Malawi. We utilized activity-based costing, a bottom-up cost analysis methodology with cost allocation that allows determination of unit cost or cost per service.

Results: 905 patients were admitted to the burn unit during the study period. The calculated total monthly burn expenditure for all cost centers was $11,622.66. Per day, the total unit cost was $387.42 with a mean daily per-patient cost of $24.26 (SD ± $6.44). Consequently, the mean cost per in-patient admission was $559.85 (SD ± $736.17). The mean daily cost per 1% total burn surface per patient at our center is $2.65 (SD ± $3.01).

Discussion: This burn care cost analysis study helps quantify the relative contribution of differing cost centers that comprise burn care delivery and hospital costs in a sub-Saharan African setting. Accurate and relevant cost information on hospital services at the patient level is therefore fundamental for policy makers, payers, and hospitals.

Conclusion: Our study has demonstrated that comprehensive burn care is possible at a cost much lower than found in other burn centers in low or middle-income countries and can be sustained with moderate funding.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsu.2015.05.015DOI Listing
July 2015

Delays in treatment of pediatric appendicitis: a more accurate variable for measuring pediatric healthcare inequalities?

Am Surg 2013 Sep;79(9):875-81

Section of Pediatric Surgery, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.

Racial and socioeconomic factors may cause barriers to healthcare access that result in delayed treatment. Because perforated appendicitis (PA) in children is thought to result from delays in treatment, it is often used as an index of barrier to access. Recent literature suggests that PA is not an inevitable consequence of delayed treatment, so it may not be the best marker for evaluating such barriers. Therefore we investigated whether racial and socioeconomic factors led directly to delays in treatment. We performed a retrospective study of 667 children undergoing appendectomy in a tertiary care center over 12.5 years. Univariate and multivariable regression analyses were used to determine if racial and socioeconomic variables were associated with increased risk of PA and increased risk of symptom duration greater than 48 hours. Hispanic children have higher rates of PA regardless of delays in treatment whereas black children had higher PA rates likely due to delays in treatment. These differences were not from socioeconomic factors in our cohort. PA, a heterogeneous disease whose course is determined by multiple factors, is not a good metric for evaluation healthcare disparities in the pediatric population. Delays in treatment may be a more appropriate measure of healthcare inequalities in children.
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September 2013

Comparing the cost and outcomes of laparoscopic versus open appendectomy for perforated appendicitis in children.

Am Surg 2013 Sep;79(9):861-4

Department of Surgery, Section of Pediatric Surgery, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.

Although laparoscopic appendectomy (LA) is accepted treatment for perforated appendicitis (PA) in children, concerns remain whether it has equivalent outcomes with open appendectomy (OA) and increased cost. A retrospective review was conducted of patients younger than age 17 years treated for PA over a 12.5-year period at a tertiary medical center. Patient characteristics, preoperative indices, and postoperative outcomes were analyzed for patients undergoing LA and OA. Of 289 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 86 had LA (29.8%) and 203 OA (70.2%), the two groups having equivalent patient demographics and preoperative indices. Inpatient costs were not significantly different between LA and OA. LA had a lower rate of wound infection (1.2 vs. 8.9%, P = 0.017), total parenteral nutrition use (23.3 vs. 50.7%, P < 0.0001), and length of stay (5.56 ± 2.38 days vs. 7.25 ± 3.77 days, P = 0.0001). There was no significant difference in the rate of postoperative organ space abscess, surgical re-exploration, or rehospitalization. In children with PA, LA had fewer surgical site infections and shorter lengths of hospital stay compared with OA without an increase in inpatient costs.
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September 2013

Computerized tomography in the workup of pediatric appendicitis: why are children scanned?

Am Surg 2012 Jun;78(6):716-21

Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Section on Pediatric Surgery, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.

Physicians increasingly use computerized tomography (CT) for the evaluation of suspected acute appendicitis (AA) in children despite increasing awareness of the potential dangers of CT-associated radiation exposure. Many studies demonstrate the value of CT in the diagnosis of AA, but none have determined what factors influence the decision to perform a CT. We investigated factors associated with the use of CT during initial workup of children who subsequently underwent appendectomy. This is a retrospective review of all patients aged 0 to 17 years who underwent appendectomy for AA by pediatric surgeons over 11 years. Both univariate and multivariable logistic regression models were created to predict use of CT. A total of 546 children underwent appendectomy for AA, of which 293 (53%) underwent CT. In univariate analysis, seven variables were significantly associated with the use of CT: female gender, Hispanic ethnicity, initial presentation to referring hospitals, lower Alvarado scores, delays from onset of symptoms to hospital presentation, migration, and rebound tenderness. In multivariable analysis, four variables significantly independently predicted the use of CT: initial presentation to a referring hospital [odds ratio (OR) 3.50), female gender (OR 1.49), increased latency from symptom onset to presentation (OR 1.34), and the presence of rebound tenderness (OR 0.23), which had a protective effect; the overall model was statistically significant (P < 0.0001). This model is the first to define variables that significantly predict CT utilization in the pediatric population. Continued investigation will be necessary to develop effective algorithms for judicious use of CT for suspected AA.
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June 2012

Computerized tomography utilization in children with appendicitis-differences in referring and children's hospitals.

Am Surg 2011 Aug;77(8):1061-5

Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Section of Pediatric Surgery, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.

Increasingly, physicians rely on computerized tomography (CT) to aid in the workup of acute appendicitis (AA) in children despite the potential negative effects of CT-associated radiation exposure. Few studies have investigated the context or location in which the decision to perform CT for AA is made. We sought to determine where the decision to use CT was made during the initial workup of pediatric patients who later underwent an appendectomy. We reviewed the medical record of all patients at a children's hospital (CH) receiving appendectomy over 10.5 years. We abstracted clinical variables using an established clinical AA scoring system, demographics and outcome variables. Patients who underwent CT were compared with those who did not. Additionally, we identified the location where the CT was performed. Our children's hospital was compared with referring hospitals (RHs) with regard to utilization of CT imaging. Five hundred and forty-six patients underwent appendectomy for AA at CH. Of these, 50 per cent underwent CT. Patients who initially presented at the RHs underwent CT at a significantly higher rate than those first presenting to CH (P < 0.0001). Moreover, we found that unlike at the RHs, patients with a higher AA score underwent CT at CH less often (P < 0.0002). RHs used CT more often than CH to diagnose AA in our cohort. CH avoided CT for patients with higher Alvarado scores. Further research is needed to elucidate factors that lead healthcare providers to use CT for children with suspected AA to eliminate unnecessary CT-associated radiation exposure.
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August 2011