Factors associated with hospital length of stay in patients admitted with suspected malaria in Kenya: secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey

Machini B, Achia TNO, Kipruto H, Amboko B, Chesang J
BMJ Open. 2022;12

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OBJECTIVES: To investigate factors associated with hospital length of stay (LOS) in patients admitted with suspected malaria using a competing risk approach. SETTING: County government referrals and major faith-based hospitals in Kenya in 2018. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey data. PARTICIPANTS: Data were extracted from 2396 medical records of patients admitted with suspected malaria at 90 hospitals. OUTCOME MEASURES: LOS, defined as time to discharge, was the primary event of interest, and time to death was the competing event against patient factors assessed during admission and hospitalisation. RESULTS: Among the patients analysed, 2283 were discharged, 49 died and 64 were censored. The median LOS was 4 days (IQR: 3-6 days). The cumulative incidence of discharge significantly decreased (p<0.05) by 12.7% (subdistribution-HR (SDHR): 0.873; 95% CI 0.789 to 0.967) when the respiratory rate was assessed, by 14.1% (SDHR 0.859; 95% CI 0.754 to 0.978) when oxygen saturation was monitored, by 23.1% (SDHR 0.769; 95% CI 0.709 to 0.833) and 23.4% (SDHR 0.766; 95% CI 0.704 to 0.833) when haemoglobin/haematocrit and glucose/random blood sugar were performed, respectively, and by 30.4% (SDHR 0.696; 95% CI 0.626 to 0.774) when patients had at least one clinical feature of severe malaria. Conversely, patients with confirmed severe malaria and those treated with injectable artesunate had a significantly increased cumulative incidence of discharge by 21.4% (SDHR 1.214; 95% CI 1.082 to 1.362) and 33.9% (SDHR 1.339; 95% CI 1.184 to 1.515), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Factors of inpatient clinical processes that influence hospital LOS were identified. These can be targeted during quality improvement interventions to enhance health service delivery in Kenya. Early recognition and appropriate management of the signs of malaria severity could greatly affect beneficial outcomes. Strengthening clinical practices and nursing care according to national case management guidelines should be a priority for malaria control managers in Kenya.