South African Medical Journal
The South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) is published under the auspices of the South African Medical Association, though it enjoys full editorial autonomy. The SAMJ :
- Provides a premier vehicle for the publication of medical research in South Africa and beyond;
- Provides high quality educational material for doctors;
- Informs the medical profession and the public on relevant health issues;
- Provides a forum for members of the profession to voice their opinions;
- Influences opinion and policy through the authority, relevance and quality of its contents;
- Is an important source for advertising and obtaining information about professional appointments.
This journal continues CME : Your SA Journal of CPD
|Publisher||Health and Medical Publishing Group (HMPG)|
|Coverage||Vol 93 Issue 1 2003 - current|
Fatalities involving illicit drug use in Pretoria, South Africa, for the period 2003 - 2012 : research
Background. Globally, illicit drugs are responsible for many fatalities annually, yet accurate data on the nature and extent of these deaths in South Africa (SA) are lacking.
Objectives. To investigate the presence and profile of illicit drugs detected in deceased persons who were subjected to medicolegal autopsies and upon whom analyses were carried out in search of illicit drugs in their body fluids at the Pretoria Medico-Legal Laboratory (PMLL), SA, over a 10-year period.
Methods. A retrospective descriptive case audit was conducted for the period 2003 - 2012.
Results. Screening for illicit drugs was requested in 385 out of 22 566 medicolegal autopsies. Results were available for only 281 of these cases, with 154 cases showing the presence of one or more illicit drugs. The demographic profile of positive cases indicated the majority to be male (90.3%) and white (85.1%). Decedents who tested positive for illicit drugs were predominantly aged between 20 and 30 years (51.9%). The most frequently detected drug was heroin, the presence of which was confirmed in 35.2% of cases, followed by cocaine in19.9%. Alcohol in combination with an illicit drug or drugs was detected in 56 cases (36.4%).
Conclusions. Results from this study indicate that illicit drugs were implicated in a considerable number of fatalities in Pretoria. However, it is believed that the figures are a gross under-representation of the actual number of drug users who died during this period. It is therefore recommended that further research be conducted and that drug screening be requested routinely when unnatural deaths are investigated at medicolegal mortuaries, not only to ensure the administration of justice but also to obtain more accurate data for purposes of public health programmes and improve insight into the burden of illicit drug use in SA.
Background. Concerns have been raised about the injudicious use of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) using cell-free DNA (cfDNA), which often leads to inaccuracies in interpretation of the role and value of cfDNA in prenatal screening.
Objective. To determine the value and role of NIPT in a select South African (SA) population.
Methods. A retrospective review of patients who elected to have NIPT between 1 October 2013 and 30 June 2015 at the Morningside Mediclinic Maternal and Fetal Medicine Centre in Johannesburg, SA. Patients had NIPT after either combined first-trimester screening (CFTS) or a second-trimester ultrasound scan. Data were collected on details of the first- and/or second-trimester screening, results of the NIPT, invasive tests done, decisions made in the event of abnormal results, and pregnancy outcomes.
Results. Overall, 3 473 first- and second-trimester fetal assessments were done at the centre during the study period, and 2.3% of patients (n=82) elected to have NIPT. The majority of these individuals elected to have NIPT on the basis of positive findings on CFTS, or markers of aneuploidy detected on a second-trimester ultrasound scan. Of the tests done, 97.6% produced results. Of those with no results, one did not meet quality metrics and the other had a low fetal fraction of cfDNA. There were two abnormal NIPT results, one indicating a high risk of trisomy 13 and the other a triploidy. Patients who screened negative elected not to have an invasive test.
Conclusion. The value of NIPT in this study was that it made it possible to avoid a number of invasive tests. NIPT had a role in contingency screening.
Background. Pertussis vaccination in the 1950s was associated with a decrease in the incidence of pertussis. A resurgence of pertussis has been documented, mainly in well-resourced countries since the 1990s. The burden of pertussis has not been well described in South Africa (SA). Epidemiological data are important for rational implementation of vaccination strategies.
Objective. To describe the morbidity and mortality of children with pertussis admitted to public sector hospitals in Bloemfontein, SA.
Methods. A retrospective descriptive hospital-based study of children diagnosed with pertussis by polymerase chain reaction testing from April 2008 to March 2015.
Results. One hundred and eighty-three laboratory results confirmed pertussis; 105/183 children (57.4%) were <18 weeks old. Clinical data, available for 154/183 cases (84.2%), showed that 141/154 children (91.6%) were admitted to hospital, of whom one-third required intensive care. Hospital admission was associated with young age (p<0.001). The median hospital stay was 9.0 days (interquartile range 6 - 14.5), and hospital stay was longer for children aged <18 weeks than for those aged ≥18 weeks (p=0.006; 95% confidence interval 1 - 5 days). Of the 154 children, 139 (90.3%) had a cough, which lasted ≤7 days in 110/137 cases (80.3%). The total white cell count was ≥20.0 x 109/L in58/144 cases (40.3%). Eight children (5.2%) died.
Conclusions. This case series highlights the importance of pertussis as a problem in children. Most children had a history of cough lasting ≤7 days. Young infants were most severely affected, requiring prolonged hospital stay, often with admission to a paediatric intensive care unit.
Background. The cost of Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) coding has limited its utility in areas of the world with the highest incidence of trauma. We hypothesised that emerging mobile health (m-health) technology could offer a cost-effective alternative to the current gold standard AIS mechanism in a high-volume trauma centre in South Africa.
Methods. A prospectively collected sample of consecutive patients admitted following a traumatic injury that required an operation during a 1-month period was selected for the study. AISs and Injury Severity Scores (ISSs) were generated by clinician-entered data using an m-health application (ISS eTHR) as well as by a team of AIS coders at Vancouver General Hospital, Canada (ISS VGH). Rater agreements for ISSs were analysed using Bland-Altman plots with 95% limits of agreement (LoA) and kappa statistics of the ISSs grouped into ordinalcategories. Reliability was analysed using a two-way mixed-model intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Calibration and discrimination of univariate logistic regression models built to predict in-hospital complications using ISSs coded by the two methods were also compared.
Results. Fifty-seven patients were managed operatively during the study period. The mean age of the cohort was 27.2 years (range 14 - 62), and 96.3% were male. The mechanism of injury was penetrating in 93.4% of cases, of which 52.8% were gunshot injuries. The LoA fell within -8.6 - 9.4. The mean ISS difference was 0.4 (95% CI -0.8 - 1.6). The kappa statistic was 0.53. The ICC of the individual ISS was 0.88 (95% CI 0.81 - 0.93) and the categorical ISS was 0.81 (95% CI 0.68 - 0.87). Model performance to predict in-hospital complications using either the ISS eTHR or the ISS VGH was equivalent.
Conclusions. ISSs calculated by the eTHR and gold-standard coding were comparable. Emerging m-health technology provides a cost-effective alternative for injury severity scoring.
Comparison of the prevalence and characteristics of inpatient adverse events using medical records review and incident reporting : research
Background. Information on adverse events (AEs) in hospitalised patients in developing countries is scanty.
Objective. To compare the magnitude and characteristics of inpatient AEs in a tertiary, not-for-profit healthcare facility in Kenya, using medical records review and incident reporting.
Methods. Estimation of prevalence was done using incidents reported in 2010 from a random sample of medical records for hospital admissions. Nurse reviewers used 18 screening criteria, followed by physician reviewers to confirm occurrence. An AE was defined as an unexpected clinical event (UE) associated with death, disability or prolonged hospitalisation not explained by the disease condition. The kappa statistic was used to estimate inter-rater agreement, and analysis was done using logistic regression.
Results. The study identified 53 UEs from 2 000 randomly selected medical records and 33 reported UEs from 23 026 admissions in the index year. The prevalences of AEs from medical records review and incident reports were 1.4% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.9 - 2.0) and 0.03% (95% CI 0.012 - 0.063), respectively. Compared with incident reporting, review of medical records identified more disability (13.2% v. 0%; p=0.03) and prolonged hospital stays (43.4% v. 18.2%; p=0.02).
Conclusions. Review of medical records is preferable to incident reporting in determining the prevalence of AEs in health facilities with limited inpatient quality improvement experience. Further research is needed to determine whether staff education and a positive culture change through promotion of non-punitive UE reporting or a combination of approaches would improve the comprehensiveness of AE reporting.
Correlation between rivaroxaban (Xarelto) plasma activity, patient clinical variables and outcomes in a South African centre : research
Background. Low-molecular-weight heparin and vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin are the gold standard for prohylaxis and treatment of venous thromboembolic disease (VTED). Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) result in predictable anticoagulation with significantly reducedinter- and intra-patient variability. DOAC absorption is rapid, with a short half-life and relatively few drug interactions. DOACs are effective and safe at fixed doses without activity monitoring. However, specific situations may require assessment of accurate drug activity. Rivaroxaban, a DOAC targeting activated coagulation factor X (FXa), is registered for the prevention and treatment of VTED in South Africa.
Objectives. To establish a prophylactic rivaroxaban activity level range and determine any associations with clinical complications, viz. haemorrhage and/or thrombosis.
Methods. Samples from 115 orthopaedic patients were tested 3 hours after a prophylactic oral dose of 10 mg rivaroxaban with STAGOrivaroxaban anti-FXa reagent on an automated coagulation analyser. Patient demographics and clinical outcomes were documented.
Results. The mean rivaroxaban anti-FXa level was 105.7 ng/mL. Two patients developed adverse events on therapy. One patient had minor bleeding (menorrhagia) (drug activity level 288.7 ng/mL) and another a deep-vein thrombosis (drug activity level 34.7 ng/mL). Statistical analysis demonstrated an association between drug activity and advancing age (p=0.008), most apparent among those aged ≥65 years.
Conclusions. Measuring rivaroxaban activity levels may reduce uncertainty if treatment failure and complications occur. Patients aged ≥65 years should be closely monitored. A local expected rivaroxaban activity level for patients on rivaroxaban prophylaxis has been established.