The effects of introducing artemether-lumefantrine malaria treatment and insecticide-impregnated bed nets to an elective surgical hospital.
Abram S., Harrison WJ., Cashman J., Lavy CB.
Malaria and anaemia in patients admitted for elective orthopaedic operations commonly cause delays to surgery. Our hospital has introduced artemether-lumefantrine as the standard treatment for malaria in accordance with the national policy, replacing sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine. Insecticide-impregnated bed nets were also introduced throughout our wards. A retrospective audit of all new elective surgical admissions over a 12-month period was performed in order to assess the effect of these changes. The study was designed to follow an identical audit performed before their introduction. Of the 435 patients admitted, 75 (17.2%) had malaria parasites present on blood film. In these patients, surgery was significantly delayed, by a mean of 9.9 days more than the group without malaria (P < 0.001). Before the changes to malaria treatment, the mean delay was 2.2 days (P < 0.05). Six patients (1.7%) developed malaria during admission, significantly fewer than the 16 (4.3%) before the introduction of bed nets (P = 0.036). The average haemoglobin level on admission in patients with malaria parasites was 11.8 g/dL (95% confidence interval [CI] 11.4-12.2) and in those without 13.1 g/dL (95% CI: 12.9-13.3). Seventeen patients (3.9%) were admitted with a haemoglobin concentration of <10 g/dL and two (0.5%) of <8 g/dL. There were no significant delays to surgery in these patients compared to those without anaemia. The adoption of artemether-lumefantrine by our hospital significantly increased delays to surgery. The introduction of insecticide-impregnated bed nets significantly reduced the number of patients developing malaria during their hospital stay.