Snakebite mortality at Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea, 1992–2001

McGain, Forbes, Limbo, Aaron, Williams, David J., Didei, Gertrude, and Winkel, Ken D. (2004) Snakebite mortality at Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua New Guinea, 1992–2001. Medical Journal of Australia, 181 (11/12). pp. 687-691.

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Objective: Fatal snakebites at Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), Papua New Guinea (PNG), were examined to identify interventions that may improve patient survival.

Design: Retrospective case series.

Subjects and setting: Inpatients at PMGH who presented with snakebite, had evidence of envenomation, and died as inpatients between 1 January 1992 and 31 December 2001.

Outcome measures: Number and cause of fatalities; ventilation bed-days; antivenom timing, dose and price.

Results: 87 deaths occurred among 722 snakebite admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU). Of these 722 patients, 82.5% were ventilated, representing 45% of all ventilated ICU patients and 60% (3430/5717) of all ICU ventilator bed-days. The median duration of ventilation in fatal snakebite cases was significantly less than in non-fatal cases for children (3.0 v. 4.5 days) and adults (3.0 v. 5.0 days). The case-fatality rate for children (14.6%) was significantly greater than that for adults (8.2%). Sixty fatalities were examined in detail: 75% received blood products; 53% received antivenom (mostly a single ampoule of polyvalent), but only 5% received antivenom ≤ 4 hours post-bite. Major causes of death included respiratory complications (50%), probable intracerebral haemorrhage (17%), and renal failure (10%). Antivenom unit costs increased significantly over the decade; in 2000 an ampoule of polyvalent antivenom was 40-fold more expensive in PNG than in Australia on a gross domestic product (A$) per capita basis.

Conclusions: Management of severe snakebite is a major challenge for PMGH. Improved antivenom procurement and use policies (including increased use of appropriate monovalent antivenoms), combined with targeted snakebite education interventions (community- and hospital-based), are key interventions to reduce the ongoing toll from snakebite.

Item ID: 13922
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1326-5377
Keywords: Mortality; Papua New Guinea; Port Moresby; Snakebite
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2011 02:27
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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