Mortality among older patients admitted to the medical wards of Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, 2010 - 2013

L A Adebusoye, S Z Kalula


Background. Geriatric medicine is an evolving specialty in Africa, and little is known about mortality among older patients admitted to medical wards.

Objectives. To determine mortality rates and associated factors among older medical inpatients.

Methods. Electronic data on patients aged ≥60 years admitted to the medical wards of Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, between January 2010 and December 2013 were analysed. Data extracted included sex, age, causes of death, and length of stay from date of admission to discharge or death. Results of laboratory tests carried out during the admission were also obtained.

Results. In all, 11 254 older patients were admitted (mean (standard deviation) age 70.7 (7.9) years). There were 1 701 deaths (15.1%). The unadjusted mortality rate was 29.6 deaths per 1 000 patient-days (PD). The majority (87.5%) were admitted as emergency cases. Mortality in the first 24 hours was 32.4 deaths per 1 000 PD. There was a significant increase in mortality with increasing age (p<0.001). Stroke was the commonest cause of mortality (14.5%). The predictors of mortality were short length of stay on admission (odds ratio (OR) 1.047, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.033 - 1.061), high white blood cell count (OR 1.064, 95% CI 1.054 - 1.074), low platelet count (OR 0.999, 95% CI 0.996 - 1.000), low haemoglobin (OR 0.940, 95% CI 0.917 - 0.964) and high blood urea (OR 1.042, 95% CI 1.033 - 1.051).

Conclusions. Mortality among older medical inpatients was high. Modifiable predictors of mortality, especially related to laboratory derangements, should be identified and addressed promptly.


Authors' affiliations

L A Adebusoye, Chief Tony Anenih Geriatric Centre, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

S Z Kalula, Albertina and Walter Sisulu Institute of Ageing in Africa, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Mortality; Older patients; Medical wards; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(2):116-121. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i2.13275

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-01-31
Date published: 2019-01-31

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