Audit of early mortality among patients admitted to the general medical ward at a district hospital in Botswana

Colleen Kershaw, Margaret Williams, Saikiran Kilaru, Rebecca Zash, Kitenge Kalenga, Felly Masole, Roger Shapiro, Tomer Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Mortality among adult general medical admissions has been reported to be high across sub-Saharan Africa, yet there is a paucity of literature on causes of general medical inpatient mortality and quality-related factors that may contribute to the high incidence of deaths. Based on a prior study at our hospital as well as our clinical experience, death early in the hospitalization is common among patients admitted to the adult medical wards. Objective: Quantify early inpatient mortality and identify factors contributing to early in-hospital mortality of medical patients in a resource-limited hospital setting in Botswana. Methods: Twenty-seven cases of patients who died within 48 hours of admission to the general medical wards at Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole, Botswana from December 1, 2015-April 25, 2016 were retrospectively reviewed through a modified root cause analysis. Findings: Early in-hospital mortality was most frequently attributed to septic shock, identified in 20 (74%) of 27 cases. The most common care management problems were delay in administration of antibiotics (15, 56%), inappropriate fluid management (15, 56%), and deficient coordination of care (15, 56%). The most common contributing factors were inadequate provider knowledge and skills in 25 cases (93%), high complexity of presenting condition in 20 (74%), and inadequate communication between team members in 18 (67%). Conclusions: Poor patient outcomes in low-and middle-income countries like Botswana are often attributed to resource limitations. Our findings suggest that while early in-hospital mortality in such settings is associated with severe presenting conditions like septic shock, primary contributors to lack of better outcomes may be healthcare-provider and system-factors rather than lack of diagnostic and therapeutic resources. Low-cost interventions to improve knowledge, skills and communication through a focus on provider education and process improvement may provide the key to reducing early in-hospital mortality and improving hospitalization outcomes in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalAnnals of Global Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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