Standard operating procedures improve acute neurologic care in a sub-Saharan African setting
Quality of neurologic emergency management in an under-resourced country may be improved by standard operating procedures (SOPs).Methods:
Neurologic SOPs were implemented in a large urban (Banjul) and a small rural (Brikama) hospital in the Gambia. As quality indicators of neurologic emergency management, performance of key procedures was assessed at baseline and in the first and second implementation years.Results:
At Banjul, 100 patients of the first-year intervention group exhibited higher rates of general procedures of emergency management than 105 control patients, such as neurologic examination (99.0% vs 91.4%; p < 0.05) and assessments of respiratory rate (98.0% vs 81.9%, p < 0.001), temperature (60.0% vs 36.2%; p < 0.001), and glucose levels (73.0% vs 58.1%; p < 0.05), in addition to written directives by physicians (96.0% vs 88.6%, p < 0.05), whereas assessments of other vital signs remained unchanged. In stroke patients, rates of stroke-related procedures increased: early CT scanning (24.3% vs 9.9%; p < 0.05), blood count (73.0% vs 49.3%; p < 0.01), renal and liver function tests (50.0% vs 5.6%, p < 0.001), aspirin prophylaxis (47.3% vs 9.9%; p < 0.001), and physiotherapy (41.9% vs 4.2%; p < 0.001). Most effects persisted until the second-year evaluation. SOP implementation was similarly feasible and beneficial at the Brikama hospital. However, outcomes did not significantly differ in the hospitals.Conclusions:
Implementing SOPs is a realistic, low-cost option for improving process quality of neurologic emergency management in under-resourced settings.Classification of evidence:
This study provides Class IV evidence that, for patients with suspected neurologic emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa, neurologic SOPs increase the rate of performance of guideline-recommended procedures.