Study identifies 76 quality indicators essential for emergency care systems in Africa

NEW YORK (March 12, 2018)– The need for emergency care in low-income and middle-income countries has never been greater, but until now, measurable indicators for providing this care have been lacking. A study conducted by the sidHARTe – Strengthening Emergency Systems Program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in collaboration with the African Federation of Emergency Medicine fills this gap, identifying 76 quality indicators for emergency care for use in critical care facilities in Africa.

The study findings, the first to formalize clinical quality indicators for emergency care in Africa, are published in the British Medical Journal. "Access to emergency care systems in low – and middle – income countries (LMICs) is expanding, particularly in Africa," said Rachel T. Moresky, MD, associate professor in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health and the Department of Emergency Medicine. She is also the founding director of the sidHARTe Program, which for the last decade has collaborated with local partners and international stakeholders in LMICs to improve acute care systems to save lives. "Until now, these efforts rarely included measurements for the quality or the impact of care provided, which is essential for improvement of care provision."

Moresky and a research team of 32 physicians, clinical officers, nurses and administrators from 21 countries worked to create the list of context-appropriate quality indicators that were established and agreed on by providers and policymakers. Their goal: allow for uniform and objective data collection to enhance emergency care delivery throughout Africa.

The researchers searched peer-reviewed publications such as PubMed, MEDLINE, and EMBASE. Through consensus, they identified seven emergency clinical conditions, including trauma, sepsis, acute respiratory problems, shock, altered mental state, pain, and obstetric bleeding, which together account for nearly 75 percent of deaths in Africa.

In addition to enhancing the quality of care, processes for system strengthening efforts and resource distribution can now be directly compared, noted the authors. It also provides a common language for comparisons between different facilities within a single country and between countries.

"We expect that with proper implementation of these performance indicators it will lead to enhanced understanding of disparities in care quality and resource distribution analysis that can redirect resources to improve patient outcomes," stated Moresky. "Local adaptation specific to burden of disease and feasibility of measurement will be a crucial next step."

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Co-authors include Cara Taubman, Columbia University Department of Emergency Medicine; Morgan C. Broccoli, Boston Medical Center; Julia Dixon and Emilie Calvello Hynes, University of Colorado School of Medicine; Ivy Muya, African Federation for Emergency Medicine, Cape Town, South Africa; and Lee A. Wallis, University of Cape Town. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit http://www.mailman.columbia.edu.

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