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1.  Survey of General Paediatric Surgery Provision in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 
A survey was carried out to ascertain the current provision of general paediatric surgery (GPS) in all hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with 100% return rate. The provision of GPS is at a crossroads with a drift of these cases to the overstretched, tertiary referral hospitals.
The regional representatives on the council of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) obtained data from their regions. Any gaps in the data were completed by the author telephoning the remaining hospitals to ascertain their current provision.
A total of 325 acute hospitals are potentially available to admit elective and/or emergency paediatric patients, of which 25 hospitals provide a tertiary paediatric surgical service. Of the remaining ‘non-tertiary’ hospitals, 138 provide elective GPS and 147 provide emergency GPS. The ages at which GPS is carried out varies considerably, but 76% of non-tertiary hospitals provide elective GPS to those over the age of 2 years. The ages of emergency cases are 24% over the age of 2 years and 51.5% over the age of 5 years. The age at which surgery is carried out is dependent on the anaesthetic provision. Subspecialisation within each hospital has taken place with a limited number of surgeons providing the elective surgery. ‘Huband-spoke’ provision of GPS to a district general hospital (DGH) from a tertiary centre is embryonic with only 11 surgeons currently in post. An estimate of the annual elective case load of GPS based on the average number of cases done on an operation list works out at 23,000 cases done outwith the tertiary centres.
Almost 10 years ago, a change in the training of young surgeons took place. An increase in training posts in Tertiary centres was made available following advice from the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons (BAPS) but these posts were often not taken up. Many DGH surgeons became uncertain whether they should continue GPS training. A subtle change in the wording of the general guidance by the Royal College of Anaesthetists altered the emphasis on the age at which it was appropriate to anaesthetise children. Change in clinical practice, reducing need, and a drift towards tertiary centres has reduced DGH operations by 30% over a decade. Young surgeons are now seldom exposed to this surgery, and are not being trained in it. The large volume of these low-risk operations in well children cannot be absorbed into the current tertiary centres due to pressure on beds. The future provision of this surgery is at risk unless action is taken now. This survey was carried out to inform the debate, and to make recommendations for the future. The principal recommendations are that: (i) GPS should continue to be provided as at present in those DGHs equipped to do so; (ii) GPS training should be carried out in the DGHs where a high volume of cases is carried out; (iii) management of these cases should use a network approach in each region; (iv) hospital trusts should actively advertise for an interest in GPS as a second subspecialty; and (v) the SAC in general surgery develop a strategy to make GPS relevant to trainee surgeons.
PMCID: PMC2430449  PMID: 18430332
Child; Surgical procedures; Elective; Hospitals; General
2.  Children's surgery: a national survey of consultant clinical practice 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001639.
To survey clinical practice and opinions of consultant surgeons and anaesthetists caring for children to inform the needs for training, commissioning and management of children's surgery in the UK.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) hosted an online survey to gather data on current clinical practice of UK consultant surgeons and anaesthetists caring for children.
The questionnaire was circulated to all hospitals and to Anaesthetic and Surgical Royal Colleges, and relevant specialist societies covering the UK and the Channel Islands and was mainly completed by consultants in District General Hospitals.
555 surgeons and 1561 anaesthetists completed the questionnaire.
32.6% of surgeons and 43.5% of anaesthetists considered that there were deficiencies in their hospital's facilities that potentially compromised delivery of a safe children's surgical service. Almost 10% of all consultants considered that their postgraduate training was insufficient for current paediatric practice and 20% felt that recent Continued Professional Development failed to maintain paediatric expertise. 45.4% of surgeons and 39.2% of anaesthetists considered that the current specialty curriculum should have a larger paediatric component. Consultants in non-specialist paediatric centres were prepared to care for younger children admitted for surgery as emergencies than those admitted electively. Many of the surgeons and anaesthetists had <4 h/week in paediatric practice. Only 55.3% of surgeons and 42.8% of anaesthetists participated in any form of regular multidisciplinary review of children undergoing surgery.
There are significant obstacles to consultant surgeons and anaesthetists providing a competent surgical service for children. Postgraduate curricula must meet the needs of trainees who will be expected to include children in their caseload as consultants. Trusts must ensure appropriate support for consultants to maintain paediatric skills and provide the necessary facilities for a high-quality local surgical service.
PMCID: PMC3488724  PMID: 23075572
Paediatric Surgery
3.  Mortality from congenital malformations in England and Wales: variations by mother's country of birth. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1989;64(10):1457-1462.
Stillbirth and infant mortality from congenital malformations in England and Wales during 1981-5 was investigated according to the mother's country of birth. Significant differences remained after standardising for maternal age and social class. The highest overall mortality was in infants of mothers born in Pakistan (standardised mortality ratio 237), followed by infants of mothers born in India (standardised mortality ratio 134), East Africa (standardised mortality ratio 126), and Bangladesh (standardised mortality ratio 118). Caribbean and West African mothers showed an overall deficit. Mortality was inversely related to social class in all groups except the Afro-Caribbean. Infants of mothers born in Pakistan had the highest mortality in every social class except I, and for most anomalies investigated. Their ratios were particularly high for limb and musculoskeletal anomalies (standardised mortality ratio 362), genitourinary anomalies (standardised mortality ratio 268), and central nervous system anomalies (standardised mortality ratio 239). Our findings highlight the need for further research to identify the causes underlying these differences.
PMCID: PMC1792797  PMID: 2817931
4.  Prehospital rapid sequence induction by emergency physicians: Is it safe? 
Objectives—To determine if there were differences in practice or intubation mishap rate between anaesthetists and accident and emergency physicians performing rapid sequence induction of anaesthesia (RSI) in the prehospital setting.
Methods—All patients who underwent RSI by a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) doctor from 1 May 1997 to 30 April 1999 were studied by retrospective analysis of in-flight run sheets. Intubation mishaps were classified as repeat attempts at intubation, repeat drug administration and failed intubation.
Results—RSI was performed on 359 patients by 10 anaesthetists (202 patients) and nine emergency physicians (157 patients). Emergency physicians recorded a larger number of patients as having Cormack and Lehane grade 3 or 4 laryngoscopy than anaesthetists (p<0.0001) but were less likely to use a gum elastic bougie to assist intubation (p=0.024). Patients treated by emergency physicians did not have a significantly different pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation or end tidal CO2 to patients treated by anaesthetists at any time after intubation. Emergency physicians were more likely to anaesthetise patients with a Glasgow Coma Score >12 than anaesthetists (p=0.003). There were two failed intubations (1%) in the anaesthetist group and four (2.5%) in the emergency physician group. Repeat attempts at intubation and repeat drug administration occurred in <2% of each group.
Conclusions—RSI performed by emergency physicians was not associated with a significantly higher failure rate or an increased number of intubation mishaps than RSI performed by anaesthetists. Emergency physicians were able to safely administer sedative and neuromuscular blocking drugs in the prehospital situation. It is suggested that emergency physicians can safely perform rapid sequence induction of anaesthesia and intubation.
PMCID: PMC1725520  PMID: 11310456
5.  Mortality of doctors in different specialties: findings from a cohort of 20000 NHS hospital consultants. 
OBJECTIVES: To examine patterns of cause specific mortality in NHS hospital consultants according to their specialty and to assess these in the context of potential occupational exposures. METHODS: A historical cohort assembled from Department of Health records with follow up through the NHS Central Register involving 18,358 male and 2168 female NHS hospital consultants employed in England and Wales between 1962 and 1979. Main outcome measures examined were cause specific mortality during 1962-92 in all consultants combined, and separately for 17 specialty groups, with age, sex, and calendar year adjusted standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) for comparison with national rates, and rate ratios (RRs) for comparison with rates in all consultants combined. RESULTS: The 2798 deaths at ages 25 to 74 reported during the 30 year study period were less than half the number expected on the basis of national rates (SMR 48, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 46 to 49). Low mortality was evident for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, other diseases related to smoking, and particularly for diabetes (SMR 14, 95% CI 6 to 29). Death rates from accidental poisoning were significantly raised among male consultants (SMR 227, 95% CI 135 to 359), the excess being most apparent in obstetricians and gynaecologists (SMR 934); almost all deaths from accidental poisoning involved prescription drugs. A significantly raised death rate from injury and poisoning among female consultants was due largely to a twofold excess of suicide (SMR 215, 95% CI 93 to 423), the rate for this cause being significantly raised in anaesthetists (SMR 405). Compared with all consultants, significantly raised mortality was found in psychiatrists for all causes combined (RR 1.12), ischaemic heart disease (RR 1.18), and injury and poisoning (RR 1.46); in anaesthetists for cirrhosis (RR 2.22); and in radiologists and radiotherapists for respiratory disease (RR 1.68). There were significant excesses of colon cancer in psychiatrists (RR 1.67, compared with all consultants) and ear, nose, and throat surgeons (RR 2.25); melanoma in anaesthetists (RR 3.33); bladder cancer in general surgeons (RR 2.40); and laryngeal cancer in ophthalmologists (RR 7.63). CONCLUSIONS: Lower rates of smoking will have contributed substantially to the low overall death rates found in consultants, but other beneficial health related behaviours, and better access to health care, may have also played a part. The increased risks of accidental poisoning in male consultants, and of suicide in female consultants are of concern, and better preventive measures are needed. The few significant excesses of specific cancers found in certain specialties have no obvious explanation other than chance. A significant excess mortality from cirrhosis in anaesthetists might reflect an occupational hazard and may warrant further investigation.
PMCID: PMC1128798  PMID: 9245944
6.  The Long-Term Effects of a Peer-Led Sex Education Programme (RIPPLE): A Cluster Randomised Trial in Schools in England 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(11):e224.
Peer-led sex education is widely believed to be an effective approach to reducing unsafe sex among young people, but reliable evidence from long-term studies is lacking. To assess the effectiveness of one form of school-based peer-led sex education in reducing unintended teenage pregnancy, we did a cluster (school) randomised trial with 7 y of follow-up.
Methods and Findings
Twenty-seven representative schools in England, with over 9,000 pupils aged 13–14 y at baseline, took part in the trial. Schools were randomised to either peer-led sex education (intervention) or to continue their usual teacher-led sex education (control). Peer educators, aged 16–17 y, were trained to deliver three 1-h classroom sessions of sex education to 13- to 14-y-old pupils from the same schools. The sessions used participatory learning methods designed to improve the younger pupils' skills in sexual communication and condom use and their knowledge about pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception, and local sexual health services. Main outcome measures were abortion and live births by age 20 y, determined by anonymised linkage of girls to routine (statutory) data. Assessment of these outcomes was blind to sex education allocation. The proportion of girls who had one or more abortions before age 20 y was the same in each arm (intervention, 5.0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.0%–6.3%]; control, 5.0% [95% CI 4.0%–6.4%]). The odds ratio (OR) adjusted for randomisation strata was 1.07 (95% CI 0.80–1.42, p = 0.64, intervention versus control). The proportion of girls with one or more live births by 20.5 y was 7.5% (95% CI 5.9%–9.6%) in the intervention arm and 10.6% (95% CI 6.8%–16.1%) in the control arm, adjusted OR 0.77 (0.51–1.15). Fewer girls in the peer-led arm self-reported a pregnancy by age 18 y (7.2% intervention versus 11.2% control, adjusted OR 0.62 [95% CI 0.42–0.91], weighted for non-response; response rate 61% intervention, 45% control). There were no significant differences for girls or boys in self-reported unprotected first sex, regretted or pressured sex, quality of current sexual relationship, diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases, or ability to identify local sexual health services.
Compared with conventional school sex education at age 13–14 y, this form of peer-led sex education was not associated with change in teenage abortions, but may have led to fewer teenage births and was popular with pupils. It merits consideration within broader teenage pregnancy prevention strategies.
Trial registration:
ISRCTN (ISRCTN94255362).
Judith Stephenson and colleagues report on a cluster randomized trial in London of school-based peer-led sex education and whether it reduced unintended teenage pregnancy.
Editors' Summary
Teenage pregnancies are fraught with problems. Children born to teenage mothers are often underweight, which can affect their long-term health; young mothers have a high risk of poor mental health after the birth; and teenage parents and their children are at increased risk of living in poverty. Little wonder, then, that faced with one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe, the Department of Health in England launched a national Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 2000 to reduce teenage pregnancies. The main goal of the strategy is to halve the 1998 under-18 pregnancy rate—there were 46.6 pregnancies for every 1,000 young women in this age group in that year—by 2010. Approaches recommended in the strategy to achieve this goal include the provision of effective sexual health advice services for young people, active engagement of health, social, youth support, and other services in the reduction of teenage pregnancies, and the improvement of sex and relationships education (SRE).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the annual under-18 pregnancy rate in England is falling, it is still very high, and it is extremely unlikely that the main goal of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy will be achieved. Experts are, therefore, looking for better ways to reduce both teenage pregnancy rates and the high rates of sexual transmitted diseases among teenagers. Many believe that peer-led SRE—the teaching (sharing) of sexual health information, values, and behaviours by people of a similar age or status group—might be a good approach to try. Peers, they suggest, might convey information about sexual health and relationships better than teachers. However, little is known about the long-term effectiveness of peer-led SRE. In this randomized cluster trial, the researchers compare the effects of a peer-led SRE program and teacher-led sex education given to13- to 14-y-old pupils on abortion and live birth numbers among young women up to age 20 y. In a cluster randomized trial, participants are randomly assigned to the interventions being compared in “clusters”; in this trial, each “cluster” is a school.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Twenty-seven schools in England (about 9,000 13- to 14-y-old pupils) participated in the RIPPLE (Randomized Intervention of PuPil-Led sex Education) trial. Each school was randomly assigned to peer-led SRE (the intervention arm) or to existing teacher-led SRE (the control arm). For peer-led SRE, trained 16- to 17-y-old peer educators gave three 1-h SRE sessions to the younger pupils in their schools. These sessions included practice with condoms, role play to improve sexual negotiating skills, and exercises to improve knowledge about sexual health. The researchers then used routine data on abortions and live births to find out how many female study participants had had an unintended pregnancy before the age of 20 y. One in 20 girls in both study arms had had one or more abortions. Slightly more girls in the control arm than in the intervention arm had had live births, but the difference was small and might have occurred by chance. However, significantly more girls in the intervention arm (11.2%) self-reported a pregnancy by age 18 than in the intervention arm (7.2%). There were no differences between the two arms for girls or boys in any other aspect of sexual health, including sexually transmitted diseases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the peer-led SRE program used in this trial had no effect on the number of teenage abortions but may have led to slightly fewer live births among the young women in the study. This particular peer-led SRE program was very short so a more extended program might have had a more marked effect on teenage pregnancy rates; this possibility needs to be tested, particularly since the pupils preferred peer-led SRE to teacher-led SRE. Even though peer-led SRE requires more resources than teacher-led SRE, this form of SRE should probably still be considered as part of a broad teenage prevention strategy, suggest the researchers. But, they warn, their findings should also “temper high expectations about the long-term impact of peer-led approaches” on young people's sexual health.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by David Ross
Every Child Matters, a Web site produced by the UK government, includes information on teenage pregnancy, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, and teenage pregnancy statistics in England
Directgov, an official government Web site for UK citizens, provides advice for parents on talking to children about sex and teenage pregnancyand advice for young people on sexual health and preventing pregnancy
Teachernet, a UK source of online publications for schools, also provides information for parents about sex and relationships education and the UK government's current guidance on SRE in schools
Avert, an international AIDS charity, also provides a fact sheet on sex education
The Sex Education Forum in the UK is the national authority on Sex and Relationships Education
PMCID: PMC2586352  PMID: 19067478
7.  Obstetric Anaesthesia Services in the United Kingdom 
British Medical Journal  1971;1(5740):101-103.
In a survey of obstetric anaesthetic services in the United Kingdom questionnaires were sent to 398 hospital maternity units and 347 general-practitioner maternity units, of which 344 and 272 respectively were returned. Many hospitals were unable to provide an anaesthetist for obstetric surgery only, and few consultant anaesthetist sessions were allocated to obstetric surgery, particularly in regional hospitals in England and Wales. Constant supervision of junior anaesthetic staff with under 12 months' experience was lacking in several hospitals. Endotracheal intubation is widely used throughout the United Kingdom. Though regional analgesic techniques are used by most anaesthetists it is impossible to provide a 24-hour regional analgesic service in all but a few hospitals.
PMCID: PMC1795676  PMID: 5539159
8.  Obstetric anaesthetic and analgesic services in Wales. 
British Medical Journal  1979;2(6192):698-700.
A survey of obstetric anaesthetic services in Wales covering 21 major units in which over 31 000 deliveries take place annually showed inadequacies in staffing at consultant and resident anaesthetist level. At least 20 additional consultant sessions were required to meet the recommendations of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland. If patients' requests for epidural analgesia are to be met some reorganisation and centralisation of facilities is needed.
PMCID: PMC1596240  PMID: 509070
9.  Multiple sclerosis in nurse anaesthetists 
Background: Volatile anaesthetics are chemically related to organic solvents used in industry. Exposure to industrial solvents may increase the incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Aim: To examine the risk among nurse anaesthetists of contracting MS.
Methods: Nurses with MS were identified by an appeal in the monthly magazine of the Swedish Nurse Union and a magazine of the Neurological Patients Association in Sweden. Ninety nurses with MS responded and contacted our clinic. They were given a questionnaire, which was filled in by 85 subjects; 13 of these were nurse anaesthetists. The questionnaire requested information about work tasks, exposure, diagnosis, symptoms, and year. The number of active nurse anaesthetists was estimated based on information from the National Board of Health and Welfare and The Nurse Union. Incidence data for women in the region of Gothenburg and Denmark were used as the reference to estimate the risk by calculation of the standardised incidence ratio (SIR).
Results: Eleven of the 13 nurse anaesthetists were exposed to anaesthetic gases before onset of MS. Mean duration of exposure before diagnosis was 14.4 years (range 4–27 years). Ten cases were diagnosed in the study period 1980–99, resulting in significantly increased SIRs of 2.9 and 2.8 with the Gothenburg and the Danish reference data, respectively.
Conclusion: Although based on crude data and a somewhat approximate analysis, this study provides preliminary evidence for an excess risk of MS in nurse anaesthetists. The risk may be even greater than observed, as the case ascertainment might have been incomplete because of the crude method applied. Further studies in this respect are clearly required to more definitely assess the risk.
PMCID: PMC1740375  PMID: 12499460
10.  Crisis management during anaesthesia: difficult intubation 
Background: Anaesthetists may experience difficulty with intubation unexpectedly which may be associated with difficulty in ventilating the patient. If not well managed, there may be serious consequences for the patient. A simple structured approach to this problem was developed to assist the anaesthetist in this difficult situation.
Objectives: To examine the role of a specific sub-algorithm for the management of difficult intubation.
Methods: The potential performance of a structured approach developed by review of the literature and analysis of each of the relevant incidents among the first 4000 reported to the Australian Incident Monitoring Study (AIMS) was compared with the actual management as reported by the anaesthetists involved.
Results: There were 147 reports of difficult intubation capable of analysis among the first 4000 incidents reported to AIMS. The difficulty was unexpected in 52% of cases; major physiological changes occurred in 37% of these cases. Saturation fell below 90% in 22% of cases, oesophageal intubation was reported in 19%, and an emergency transtracheal airway was required in 4% of cases. Obesity and limited neck mobility and mouth opening were the most common anatomical contributing factors.
Conclusion: The data confirm previously reported failures to predict difficult intubation with existing preoperative clinical tests and suggest an ongoing need to teach a pre-learned strategy to deal with difficult intubation and any associated problem with ventilation. An easy-to-follow structured approach to these problems is outlined. It is recommended that skilled assistance be obtained (preferably another anaesthetist) when difficulty is expected or the patient's cardiorespiratory reserve is low. Patients should be assessed postoperatively to exclude any sequelae and to inform them of the difficulties encountered. These should be clearly documented and appropriate steps taken to warn future anaesthetists.
PMCID: PMC1744036  PMID: 15933302
11.  Multimodal system designed to reduce errors in recording and administration of drugs in anaesthesia: prospective randomised clinical evaluation 
Objective To clinically evaluate a new patented multimodal system (SAFERSleep) designed to reduce errors in the recording and administration of drugs in anaesthesia.
Design Prospective randomised open label clinical trial.
Setting Five designated operating theatres in a major tertiary referral hospital.
Participants Eighty nine consenting anaesthetists managing 1075 cases in which there were 10 764 drug administrations.
Intervention Use of the new system (which includes customised drug trays and purpose designed drug trolley drawers to promote a well organised anaesthetic workspace and aseptic technique; pre-filled syringes for commonly used anaesthetic drugs; large legible colour coded drug labels; a barcode reader linked to a computer, speakers, and touch screen to provide automatic auditory and visual verification of selected drugs immediately before each administration; automatic compilation of an anaesthetic record; an on-screen and audible warning if an antibiotic has not been administered within 15 minutes of the start of anaesthesia; and certain procedural rules—notably, scanning the label before each drug administration) versus conventional practice in drug administration with a manually compiled anaesthetic record.
Main outcome measures Primary: composite of errors in the recording and administration of intravenous drugs detected by direct observation and by detailed reconciliation of the contents of used drug vials against recorded administrations; and lapses in responding to an intermittent visual stimulus (vigilance latency task). Secondary: outcomes in patients; analyses of anaesthetists’ tasks and assessments of workload; evaluation of the legibility of anaesthetic records; evaluation of compliance with the procedural rules of the new system; and questionnaire based ratings of the respective systems by participants.
Results The overall mean rate of drug errors per 100 administrations was 9.1 (95% confidence interval 6.9 to 11.4) with the new system (one in 11 administrations) and 11.6 (9.3 to 13.9) with conventional methods (one in nine administrations) (P=0.045 for difference). Most were recording errors, and, though fewer drug administration errors occurred with the new system, the comparison with conventional methods did not reach significance. Rates of errors in drug administration were lower when anaesthetists consistently applied two key principles of the new system (scanning the drug barcode before administering each drug and keeping the voice prompt active) than when they did not: mean 6.0 (3.1 to 8.8) errors per 100 administrations v 9.7 (8.4 to 11.1) respectively (P=0.004). Lapses in the vigilance latency task occurred in 12% (58/471) of cases with the new system and 9% (40/473) with conventional methods (P=0.052). The records generated by the new system were more legible, and anaesthetists preferred the new system, particularly in relation to long, complex, and emergency cases. There were no differences between new and conventional systems in respect of outcomes in patients or anaesthetists’ workload.
Conclusions The new system was associated with a reduction in errors in the recording and administration of drugs in anaesthesia, attributable mainly to a reduction in recording errors. Automatic compilation of the anaesthetic record increased legibility but also increased lapses in a vigilance latency task and decreased time spent watching monitors.
Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry No 12608000068369.
PMCID: PMC3178276  PMID: 21940742
12.  Usefulness of applying lidocaine in esophagogastroduodenoscopy performed under sedation with propofol 
AIM: To determine whether topical lidocaine benefits esophagogastroduoduenoscopy (EGD) by decreasing propofol dose necessary for sedation or procedure-related complications.
METHODS: The study was designed as a prospective, single centre, double blind, randomised clinical trial and was conducted in 2012 between January and May (NCT01489891). Consecutive patients undergoing EGD were randomly assigned to receive supplemental topical lidocaine (L; 50 mg in an excipient solution which was applied as a spray to the oropharynx) or placebo (P; taste excipients solution without active substance, similarly delivered) prior to the standard propofol sedation procedure. The propofol was administered as a bolus intravenous (iv) dose, with patients in the L and P groups receiving initial doses based on the patient’s American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) classification (ASA I-II: 0.50-0.60 mg/kg; ASA III-IV: 0.25-0.35 mg/kg), followed by 10-20 mg iv dose every 30-60 s at the anaesthetist’s discretion. Vital signs, anthropometric measurements, amount of propofol administered, sedation level reached, examination time, and the subjective assessments of the endoscopist’s and anaesthetist’s satisfaction (based upon a four point Likert scale) were recorded. All statistical tests were performed by the Stata statistical software suite (Release 11, 2009; StataCorp, LP, College Station, TX, United States).
RESULTS: No significant differences were found between the groups treated with lidocaine or placebo in terms of total propofol dose (310.7 ± 139.2 mg/kg per minute vs 280.1 ± 87.7 mg/kg per minute, P = 0.15) or intraprocedural propofol dose (135.3 ± 151.7 mg/kg per minute vs 122.7 ± 96.5 mg/kg per minute, P = 0.58). Only when the L and P groups were analysed with the particular subgroups of female, < 65-year-old, and lower anaesthetic risk level (ASA I-II) was a statistically significant difference found (L: 336.5 ± 141.2 mg/kg per minute vs P: 284.6 ± 91.2 mg/kg per minute, P = 0.03) for greater total propofol requirements). The total incidence of complications was also similar between the two groups, with the L group showing a complication rate of 32.2% (95%CI: 21.6-45.0) and the P group showing a complication rate of 26.7% (95%CI: 17.0-39.0). In addition, the use of lidocaine had no effect on the anaesthetist’s or endoscopist’s satisfaction with the procedure. Thus, the endoscopist’s satisfaction Likert assessments were equally distributed among the L and P groups: unsatisfactory, [L: 6.8% (95%CI: 2.2-15.5) vs P: 0% (95%CI: 0-4.8); neutral, L: 10.1% (95%CI: 4.2-19.9) vs P: 15% (95%CI: 7.6-25.7)]; satisfactory, [L: 25.4% (95%CI: 10-29.6) vs P: 18.3% (95%CI: 15.5-37.6); and very satisfactory, L: 57.6% (95%CI: 54-77.7) vs P: 66.6% (95%CI: 44.8-69.7)]. Likewise, the anaesthetist’s satisfaction Likert assessments regarding the ease of maintaining a patient at an optimum sedation level without agitation or modification of the projected sedation protocol were not affected by the application of lidocaine, as evidenced by the lack of significant differences between the scores for the placebo group: unsatisfactory, L: 5.8% (95%CI: 1.3-13.2) vs P: 0% (95%CI: 0-4.8); neutral, L: 16.9% (95%CI: 8.9-28.4) vs P: 16.7% (95%CI: 8.8-27.7); satisfactory, L: 15.2% (95%CI: 7.7-26.1) vs P: 20.3% (95%CI: 11.3-31.6); and very satisfactory, L: 62.7% (95%CI: 49.9-74.3) vs P: 63.3% (95%CI: 50.6-74.7).
CONCLUSION: Topical pharyngeal anaesthesia is safe in EGD but does not reduce the necessary dose of propofol or improve the anaesthetist’s or endoscopist’s satisfaction with the procedure.
PMCID: PMC3653022  PMID: 23678376
Lidocaine; Propofol; Esophagogastroduodenoscopy; Sedation; Adverse effects
13.  Discrepant perceptions of communication, teamwork and situation awareness among surgical team members 
To assess surgical team members’ differences in perception of non-technical skills.
Questionnaire design.
Operating theatres (OTs) at one university hospital, three teaching hospitals and one general hospital in the Netherlands.
Sixty-six surgeons, 97 OT nurses, 18 anaesthetists and 40 nurse anaesthetists.
All surgical team members, of five hospitals, were asked to complete a questionnaire and state their opinion on the current state of communication, teamwork and situation awareness at the OT.
Ratings for ‘communication’ were significantly different, particularly between surgeons and all other team members (P ≤ 0.001). The ratings for ‘teamwork’ differed significantly between all team members (P ≤ 0.005). Within ‘situation awareness’ significant differences were mainly observed for ‘gathering information’ between surgeons and other team members (P < 0.001). Finally, 72–90% of anaesthetists, OT nurses and nurse anaesthetists rated routine team briefings and debriefings as inadequate.
This study shows discrepancies on many aspects in perception between surgeons and other surgical team members concerning communication, teamwork and situation awareness. Future research needs to ascertain whether these discrepancies are linked to greater risk of adverse events or to process as well as systems failures. Establishing this link would support implementation and use of complex team interventions that intervene at multiple levels of the healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3055275  PMID: 21242160
patient safety; quality of care; teamwork; communication; surgery
14.  A call centre and extended checklist for pre-screening elective surgical patients – a pilot study 
BMC Anesthesiology  2015;15:77.
Novel approaches to preoperative assessment and management before elective surgery are warranted to ensure that a sustainable high quality service is provided. The benefits of a call centre incorporating an extended preoperative electronic checklist and phone follow-up as an alternative to a clinic attendance were examined.
This was a pilot study of a new method of patient assessment in patients scheduled for elective non-cardiac surgery and who attended a conventional preoperative clinic. A call centre assessment, using a Computer-assisted Health Assessment by Telephone (CHAT), paper review by an anaesthetist, and a follow-up phone call if the anaesthetist wished more information, preceded the conventional preoperative clinic. Summaries from the call centre and clinic assessments were independently produced.
The times spent by call centre staff were recorded. The ‘procedural anaesthetist’ (who provided anaesthesia for each patient’s actual surgery/procedure) documented an opinion on whether the call centre assessment alone would have been sufficient to bypass the preoperative clinic if the patient were hypothetically undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This opinion was also sought from a panel of four senior anaesthetists, based on patient summaries from both the call centre and preoperative clinic, but expanded to three hypothetical operations of different complexity – cataract removal, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and total hip replacement.
Call centre assessment followed by clinic attendance was studied in 193 patients. The mean time for CHAT was 19.8 (SD 7.5) minutes and, after review of CHAT summaries, anaesthetists telephoned 45.6 % of cases for follow-up information. The mean time spent by anaesthetists on summary review and phone calls was 3.8 (SD 3.9) minutes. Procedural anaesthetists considered 89 % of the patients under their care suitable to have bypassed the preoperative clinic if they were to have undergone cholecystectomy. The panel of senior anaesthetists judged 95-97 % of patients suitable to have bypassed preoperative clinic for cataract surgery, 81-85 % for cholecystectomy and 79-82 % for hip replacement.
A call centre to pre-screen elective surgical patients might substantially reduce patient numbers attending preoperative anaesthetic assessment clinics. Further studies to assess the quality of such an approach are indicated.
Trial registration
ANZCTR ACTRN12614000199617.
PMCID: PMC4438626  PMID: 25985775
Anaesthesia; Preoperative assessment; Computer-assisted; CATI; Cost-benefit
15.  Changing incidence and geographical distribution of malignant paediatric germ cell tumours in the West Midlands Health Authority region, 1957-92. 
British Journal of Cancer  1995;72(1):219-223.
The West Midlands Regional Children's Tumour Research Group holds high-quality data from 1957 on all childhood cancers in the West Midlands Health Authority region. Since it has been reported that malignant germ cell tumours are increasing in incidence in the north-west of England, we undertook to examine rates in this region and to map the distribution of cases in order to assess any geographical changes in incidence rates. We identified a total of 102 malignant germ cell tumours (MGCTs) between 1957 and 1992. The average age-standardised rate was 1.6 per million per year in the period 1957-74 and 3.6 per million per year during 1975-92, a significant increase (P = 0.0004). Particular increases were noted in older children (10-14 years); P = 0.0002) and in yolk sac (endodermal sinus) tumours (P = 0.004). A small excess was also observed in Asian children when compared with other diagnoses. Geographical analysis showed particularly higher rates at health district level in the West Midlands conurbation as compared with the other areas in the period 1975-92. These factors suggest the possibility that industrial/urban or population effects may be implicated in the observed increase in childhood MGCT and we recommend these areas for further studies.
PMCID: PMC2034133  PMID: 7599055
16.  Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy in Children with Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders: Consensus Statement of a UK Multidisciplinary Working Party 
During 2008, ENT-UK received a number of professional enquiries from colleagues about the management of children with upper airway obstruction and uncomplicated obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). These children with sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBDs) are usually referred to paediatricians and ENT surgeons.
In some district general hospitals, (DGHs) where paediatric intensive care (PICU) facilities to ventilate children were not available, paediatrician and anaesthetist colleagues were expressing concern about children with a clinical diagnosis of OSA having routine tonsillectomy, with or without adenoidectomy.
As BAPO President, I was asked by the ENT-UK President, Professor Richard Ramsden, to investigate the issues and rapidly develop a working consensus statement to support safe but local treatment of these children.
The Royal Colleges of Anaesthetists and Paediatrics and Child Health and the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists nominated expert members from both secondary and tertiary care to contribute and develop a consensus statement based on the limited evidence base available.
Our terms of reference were to produce a statement that was brief, with a limited number of references, to inform decision-making at the present time.
With patient safety as the first priority, the working party wished to support practice that facilitated referral to a tertiary centre of those children who could be expected, on clinical assessment alone, potentially to require PICU facilities. In contrast, the majority of children who could be safely managed in a secondary care setting should be managed closer to home in a DGH.
BAPO, ENT-UK, APA, RCS-CSF and RCoA have endorsed the consensus statement; the RCPCH has no mechanism for endorsing consensus statements, but the RCPCH Clinical Effectiveness Committee reviewed the statement, concluding it was a ‘concise, accurate and helpful document’.
The consensus statement is an interim working tool, based on level-five evidence. It is intended as the starting point to catalyze further development towards a fully structured, evidence-based guideline; to this end, feedback and comment are welcomed. This and the constructive feedback from APA and RCPCH will be incorporated into a future guideline proposal.
PMCID: PMC2758429  PMID: 19622257
Consensus statement; Children; Sleep-related breathing disorders; Tonsillectomy; Adenoidectomy
17.  Suicide in doctors: a study of risk according to gender, seniority and specialty in medical practitioners in England and Wales, 1979-1995 
STUDY OBJECTIVE—To investigate the suicide risk of doctors in England and Wales, according to gender, seniority and specialty.
DESIGN—Retrospective cohort study. Suicide rates calculated by gender, age, specialty, seniority and time period. Standardised mortality ratios calculated for suicide (1991-1995), adjusted for age and sex.
SETTING—England and Wales.
SUBJECTS—Doctors in the National Health Service who died by suicide between 1979 and 1995, identified by death certificates. Population at risk based on Department of Health manpower data.
MAIN RESULTS—Two hundred and twenty three medical practitioners in the National Health Service who died by suicide or undetermined cause were identified. The annual suicide rates in male and female doctors were 19.2 and 18.8 per 100 000 respectively. The suicide rate in female doctors was higher than in the general population (SMR 201.8; 95% CI 99.7, 303.9), whereas the rate in male doctors was less than that of the general population (SMR 66.8; 95% CI 46.6, 87.0). The difference between the mortality ratios of the female and male doctors was statistically significant (p=0.01), although the absolute suicide risk was similar in the two genders. There were significant differences between specialties (p=0.0001), with anaesthetists, community health doctors, general practitioners and psychiatrists having significantly increased rates compared with doctors in general hospital medicine. There were no differences with regard to seniority and time period.
CONCLUSIONS—There is an increased risk of suicide in female doctors, but male doctors seem to be at less risk than men in the general population. The excess risk of suicide in female doctors highlights the need to tackle stress and mental health problems in doctors more effectively. The risk requires particular monitoring in the light of the very large increase in the numbers of women entering medicine.

Keywords: suicide; doctors; medical specialties
PMCID: PMC1731901  PMID: 11297646
18.  Survey of neonatal screening for primary hypothyroidism in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland 1982-4 
National screening for congenital hypothyroidism was established in the United Kingdom in 1982. During 1982-4, 488 infants with primary congenital hypothyroidism were detected by the 25 regional screening laboratories in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In addition, one infant had signs of cretinism at birth and was investigated before the screening test was done and four infants were known to have been missed by the screening programme; among these four infants the initial thyroid stimulating hormone concentrations were normal in two with inherited defects of synthesis of thyroxine, not measured in one, and false negative in one. The overall incidence of primary hypothyroidism was 1:3937 births (boys 1:6640, girls 1:2756). The incidence seemed to be reduced in infants born to black mothers (two cases only) and increased in those born to Asian mothers (61 cases). Congenital anomalies other than those of the thyroid gland were reported in 36 children (7%), and 15 (3%) died from various causes before the age of 4. Infants who were considered to show unequivocal evidence of hypothyroidism started treatment at a median age of 17 days (5th and 95th centiles 10 and 42 days) compared with a median age of 14 days (5th and 95th centiles 9 and 21 days) for infants with classic phenylketonuria also detected by national screening.
PMCID: PMC2545827  PMID: 3134984
19.  Rapid sequence intubations by emergency doctors: we can but are we? 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2007;24(7):480-481.
Rapid sequence intubation (RSI) is used by emergency doctors routinely in many parts of the world, but it is unclear how many are using this technique in England and Wales.
To determine, through a telephonic survey, which specialty was performing RSIs.
All emergency departments were telephoned, and senior emergency doctors were asked which specialty provided this service, and whether this was done routinely, often, or could be either specialty.
All 207 departments responded. 3 (1%) departments routinely had emergency doctors perform RSIs, and a further 3 (1%) had anaesthetists performing these routinely. In 33 (15.9%) departments, there were equal chances that it could either specialty. Anaesthetists provided the service routinely in 130 (62.8%) and often in 38 (18.4%) departments.
Although there are emergency doctors performing RSIs, the majority of RSIs are still being performed by anaesthetists. When this is added to the curriculum for the Fellowship of the College of Emergency Medicine from 2008, many departments, seemingly, will not be in a position to provide experience in this area.
PMCID: PMC2658394  PMID: 17582038
20.  Surgical checklists: the human factor 
Surgical checklists has been shown to improve patient safety and teamwork in the operating theatre. However, despite the known benefits of the use of checklists in surgery, in some cases the practical implementation has been found to be less than universal. A questionnaire methodology was used to quantitatively evaluate the attitudes of theatre staff towards a modified version of the World Health Organisation (WHO) surgical checklist with relation to: beliefs about levels of compliance and support, impact on patient safety and teamwork, and barriers to the use of the checklist.
Using the theory of planned behaviour as a framework, 14 semi-structured interviews were conducted with theatre personnel regarding their attitudes towards, and levels of compliance with, a checklist. Based upon the interviews, a 27-item questionnaire was developed and distribute to all theatre personnel in an Irish hospital.
Responses were obtained from 107 theatre staff (42.6% response rate). Particularly for nurses, the overall attitudes towards the effect of the checklist on safety and teamworking were positive. However, there was a lack of rigour with which the checklist was being applied. Nurses were significantly more sensitive to the barriers to the use of the checklist than anaesthetists or surgeons. Moreover, anaesthetists were not as positively disposed to the surgical checklist as surgeons and nurse. This finding was attributed to the tendency for the checklist to be completed during a period of high workload for the anaesthetists, resulting in a lack of engagement with the process.
In order to improve the rigour with which the surgical checklist is applied, there is a need for: the involvement of all members of the theatre team in the checklist process, demonstrated support for the checklist from senior personnel, on-going education and training, and barriers to the implementation of the checklist to be addressed.
PMCID: PMC3669630  PMID: 23672665
Surgical checklist; Surgery; Patient safety
21.  Regional variations in the sexually transmitted disease clinic service in England and Wales. 
The provision of the sexually transmitted disease clinic service in the regional health authorities of England and Wales has been compared by relating the opening hours of clinics to the size of the population served. Relatively low levels of service were provided in the West Midlands and South-west Thames regions and high levels in the North-east and North-west Thames regions. When the service in the Greater London area health authorities was examined in relation to both resident and day-time populations, provision was relatively high in both instances, particularly in certain central London areas. Valid conclusions, however, about the equality of the service in different areas can only be drawn if the needs of the population for that service are known.
PMCID: PMC1045873  PMID: 6894101
22.  Dissemination of critical airway information 
Anaesthesia and intensive care  2013;41(3):334-341.
The communication of information concerning patients with difficult airways is universally recognized as an important component in avoiding future airway management difficulties. A range of options is available to impart this information; little is known, however, about the referral patterns of anaesthetists following the identification and management of a difficult airway. In this study, 158 anaesthetists were contacted and asked to comment on their referral patterns regarding a number of difficult airway scenarios. This was followed by a retrospective survey of 124 patients with known difficult airways. A wide discrepancy was found between stated referral preferences by anaesthetists, and the actual use of options such as postoperative visits, notes in the clinical record, letters to the patient and family doctor, and entries in hospital, national and MedicAlert™ data bases. Of the patients with an airway difficulty noted on their anaesthetic record, only 14% of them also had a pertinent comment on their clinical record; even fewer were referred to hospital warning systems (12%) or national (6%) and MedicAlert™ (7%) databases.
Comments from our survey were critical of multiple difficult airway databases and alert systems which are not linked and do not lead automatically to a single source of information. We suggest that a customdesigned MedicAlert™ New Zealand difficult airway/intubation registry could be established, with easy access for medical practitioners and patients. This registry could be accessed through the National Health Index (NHI) database and linked to the MedicAlert™ International registry and their nine international affiliates.
PMCID: PMC3888506  PMID: 23659395
airway; intubation; ventilation; critical airway; information systems
23.  Male orthopaedic surgeons and anaesthetists: equally good at estimating fluid volumes (and changing light bulbs) but equally poor at estimating procedure duration 
Singapore Medical Journal  2015;56(5):264-267.
How many orthopods does it take to change a light bulb? One – to refer to the medics for ‘Darkness ?Cause’. Additionally, anaesthetists and surgeons often disagree on the estimated blood loss during surgery and the estimated procedure duration. We designed this study to compare the ability of orthopaedic surgeons and anaesthetists in: (a) estimating fluid volumes; (b) estimating procedure durations; and (c) changing light bulbs.
Participants had to either be a specialist in anaesthesia or orthopaedic surgery, or a trainee in that specialty for at least two years. Three different fluid specimens were used for volume estimation (44 mL, 88 mL and 144 mL). Two videos of different lengths (140 seconds and 170 seconds), showing the suturing of a banana skin, were used for procedure duration estimation. To determine the ability at changing light bulbs, the participants had to match eight different light sockets to their respective bulbs.
30 male anaesthetists and trainees and 31 male orthopaedic surgeons and trainees participated in this study. Orthopaedic surgeons underestimated the three fluid volumes by 3.9% and anaesthetists overestimated by 5.1% (p = 0.925). Anaesthetists and orthopaedic surgeons overestimated the duration of the two procedures by 21.2% and 43.1%, respectively (p = 0.006). Anaesthetists had a faster mean time in changing light bulbs (70.1 seconds vs. 74.1 seconds, p = 0.319).
In an experimental environment, male orthopaedic surgeons are as good as male anaesthetists in estimating fluid volumes (in commonly seen surgical specimens) and in changing light bulbs. Both groups are poor at estimating procedure durations.
PMCID: PMC4447927  PMID: 26034318
anaesthetists; fluid estimation; light bulbs; orthopaedic surgeons; procedure duration
24.  Attitudes to blood transfusion post arthroplasty surgery in the United Kingdom: A national survey 
International Orthopaedics  2007;32(3):325-329.
Five hundred orthopaedic surgeons and 336 anaesthetists were surveyed to assess current UK attitudes towards transfusion practice following arthroplasty surgery. Seventy-two percent of surgeons and 73% of anaesthetists responded to the survey. In an uncomplicated patient following total hip arthroplasty, 53.2% of surgeons and 63.1% of anaesthetists would transfuse at or below a haemoglobin (Hb) level of 8 g/dL. Surgeons tended to be more aggressive in their attitudes, with a mean transfusion threshold of 8.3 g/dL compared to 7.9 g/dL for anaesthetists (p < 0.01), and with 97% of surgeons transfusing two or more units compared to 78% of anaesthetists (p < 0.01). This threshold Hb increased if the patient was symptomatic (surgeons 9.3 g/dL, anaesthetists 8.8 g/dL, p < 0.05) or was known to have pre-existing ischaemic heart disease (surgeons 9.0 g/dL, anaesthetists 9.2 g/dL, p <  0.05). A wide variability in attitudes and practices is demonstrated, and the development and adoption of consensus guidelines needs to be encouraged if efforts to reduce the use of blood products are to succeed.
PMCID: PMC2323427  PMID: 17396259
25.  Young Children's Probability of Dying Before and After Their Mother's Death: A Rural South African Population-Based Surveillance Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(3):e1001409.
Brian Houle and colleagues examine the temporal relationship between mother and child death by using 15 years of data (1994–2008) from household surveys conducted in the Agincourt sub-district of South Africa.
There is evidence that a young child's risk of dying increases following the mother's death, but little is known about the risk when the mother becomes very ill prior to her death. We hypothesized that children would be more likely to die during the period several months before their mother's death, as well as for several months after her death. Therefore we investigated the relationship between young children's likelihood of dying and the timing of their mother's death and, in particular, the existence of a critical period of increased risk.
Methods and Findings
Data from a health and socio-demographic surveillance system in rural South Africa were collected on children 0–5 y of age from 1 January 1994 to 31 December 2008. Discrete time survival analysis was used to estimate children's probability of dying before and after their mother's death, accounting for moderators. 1,244 children (3% of sample) died from 1994 to 2008. The probability of child death began to rise 6–11 mo prior to the mother's death and increased markedly during the 2 mo immediately before the month of her death (odds ratio [OR] 7.1 [95% CI 3.9–12.7]), in the month of her death (OR 12.6 [6.2–25.3]), and during the 2 mo following her death (OR 7.0 [3.2–15.6]). This increase in the probability of dying was more pronounced for children whose mothers died of AIDS or tuberculosis compared to other causes of death, but the pattern remained for causes unrelated to AIDS/tuberculosis. Infants aged 0–6 mo at the time of their mother's death were nine times more likely to die than children aged 2–5 y. The limitations of the study included the lack of knowledge about precisely when a very ill mother will die, a lack of information about child nutrition and care, and the diagnosis of AIDS deaths by verbal autopsy rather than serostatus.
Young children in lower income settings are more likely to die not only after their mother's death but also in the months before, when she is seriously ill. Interventions are urgently needed to support families both when the mother becomes very ill and after her death.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Over the past few years, there has been enormous international effort to meet the target set by Millennium Development Goal 4—to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds from the 1990 level by 2015. There has been some encouraging progress, and according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, in 2011, just under 7 million children less than five years died, a fall of almost 3 million from a decade ago. However, such efforts must also consider the health of the mother, as it is now also well established that the health of children is intrinsically linked to their mother's health: there is strong evidence from low- and middle-income countries that children's risk of dying increases around the time of their mother's death, particularly relating to the HIV pandemic in Africa.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies examining the timing of a child's death relative to that of their mother have mainly focused on the period after the mother's death. So far, there have been few studies examining the link between a child's death and the period when his/her mother becomes ill and unable to care for and feed her child. In this study from the Agincourt sub-district in northeast South Africa, the researchers investigated the relationship between young children's chance (odds) of dying and the timing of their mother's death, particularly to examine whether there were critical periods of risk for children before their mother's death.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the health and socio-demographic surveillance system in the area, which had 15 years (1994–2008) of information from yearly household surveys. The researchers focused on young children (0–6 months, 7–23 months, and 24–59 months) whose mothers had died, and through a statistical model, analysed the changes in the child's chance (odds) of dying from a year before the mother's death through to any time after her death during the study period. The cause of the mother's death was identified from verbal autopsy and categorized as being related to AIDS or tuberculosis (chronic) or other (mostly acute) causes not related to these infections. The researchers took other factors into account in their analysis and compared the odds of dying for children whose mothers died with those whose mothers were alive.
Using these methods, the researchers found that a total of 1,244 children (3% of the total sample) died between 1994 and 2008. Importantly, the researchers found that although the period when children are more likely to die began to increase in the period 6–11 months before their mother's death, there were three distinct periods of a much higher chance (odds) of death: the period 1–2 months before the month in which their mother died (odds ratio 7.1), the month of her death (odds ratio 12.6), and the period 1–2 months following her death (odds ratio 7.0). Furthermore, during the five-month period around the time of their mother's death, children (both boys and girls) aged 0–6 months were about nine times more likely to die than children aged 24–59 months. Finally, children were about 1.5 times more likely to die if their mother died of an AIDS/tuberculosis-related cause.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These finding suggest that in low-income settings, young children are more likely to die in the months before their mother's death, when she is seriously ill, not just in the period after her death. The chance of dying is particularly increased in very young children (0–6 months) and in children whose mother died of HIV/tuberculosis-related causes. Although this study had several limitations, such as limited information on the child's cause of death, this study highlights the urgent need for proactive and coordinated community-based interventions to support families, especially vulnerable children, when a mother becomes seriously ill, in addition to the period following her death.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The Countdown to 2015 initiative has the latest country information on progress in reducing maternal, neonatal, and child deaths
The World Health Organization has more information on Millennium Development Goal 4
The Joint United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS has information about the number of deaths from HIV-related causes
MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt) has more information on the research platform that made this study possible
PMCID: PMC3608552  PMID: 23555200

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