Burns among adults in a major Malawian burn unit: epidemiology and factors associated with prolonged hospital stay

Stephen Kasenda1,2*, Donnie Mategula3,4,6, Tilinde Chokotho5

1.Blantyre District Health Office, Blantyre, Malawi
2.Malawi Epidemiology and Intervention Research Unit, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Lilongwe, Malawi
3.Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Blantyre, Malawi
4.School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Blantyre, Malawi
5.Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi
6.Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom

*Corresponding Author: Stephen Kasenda; E-mail: Stephen.kasenda@meiru.mw


This study sought to describe the epidemiology of burns and factors associated with prolonged hospital stay among adult patients admitted in the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital burns unit.
All files of patients aged at least 17 years and admitted in the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital burns unit between 1 June 2007 and 31 May 2017 with acute burns, were reviewed. Data on socio-demographic characteristics, injuries sustained, comorbidities, length of hospital stay, and clinical outcomes were extracted from the files. Summary statistics, independent sample T-test, and odds ratios were computed to determine the distribution and associations of the variables collected.
A total of 515 patient files, all from rural or informal urban settlements, were reviewed. The median age at the time of presentation was 32 years (IQR: 25-45), and 52% (n=279) were male. Most of the burns occurred at home (81.0%; n=379), were of flame etiology (75.7%; n=385), and were reported to have been accidental (94.7%, n=445). The mean monthly rate of new burn injury patients was highest in the cool-dry season, and epileptic seizures were a common precedent of burn injury (30.7%; n=158). Most (62.7%) of the patients with recorded burn sites sustained multiple burns injuries, and more than half of the patients had upper and lower limb burns (64.6% & 59.5% respectively). Thirty patients sustained additional non-burn injuries, and 26.4% (n=132) of all patients with recorded outcomes died in the hospital.
The data on burn injuries among adults presenting at the QECH burns unit suggests the existence of socio-economic inequalities associated with burn incidence. There is also a need for improvement in the quality and uptake of epilepsy care in primary care facilities.

Keywords: Adult, Biomass, Burns, Comorbidity, Epidemiology, Epilepsy, Malawi, Southern Africa

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