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Surgery for CHD has been slow to develop in parts of the former Soviet Union. The impact of an 8-year surgical assistance programme between an emerging centre and a multi-disciplinary international team that comprised healthcare professionals from developed cardiac programmes is analysed and presented.
Material and methods
The international paediatric assistance programme included five main components – intermittent clinical visits to the site annually, medical education, biomedical engineering support, nurse empowerment, and team-based practice development. Data were analysed from visiting teams and local databases before and since commencement of assistance in 2007 (era A: 2000–2007; era B: 2008–2015). The following variables were compared between periods: annual case volume, operative mortality, case complexity based on Risk Adjustment for Congenital Heart Surgery (RACHS-1), and RACHS-adjusted standardised mortality ratio.
A total of 154 RACHS-classifiable operations were performed during era A, with a mean annual case volume by local surgeons of 19.3 at 95% confidence interval 14.3–24.2, with an operative mortality of 4.6% and a standardised mortality ratio of 2.1. In era B, surgical volume increased to a mean of 103.1 annual cases (95% confidence interval 69.1–137.2, p<0.0001). There was a non-significant (p=0.84) increase in operative mortality (5.7%), but a decrease in standardised mortality ratio (1.2) owing to an increase in case complexity. In era B, the proportion of local surgeon-led surgeries during visits from the international team increased from 0% (0/27) in 2008 to 98% (58/59) in the final year of analysis.
The model of assistance described in this report led to improved adjusted mortality, increased case volume, complexity, and independent operating skills.
Paediatric cardiac services are poorly developed or totally absent in underdeveloped countries. Institutions, foundations and interested individuals in those nations in which sophisticated paediatric cardiac surgery is practised have the ability to alleviate this problem by sponsoring paediatric cardio-surgical missions to provide care, and train local caregivers in developing, transitional, and third world countries. The ultimate benefit of such a programme is to improve the surgical abilities of the host institution. The purpose of this report is to present the impact of our programme over a period of 14 years.
We specifically reviewed our database of patients from our missions, our team lists, surgical results, and the number and type of personnel trained in the institutions that we have assisted. In order for the institution to be entered into the study, the foundation had to provide at least 2 months of training. In addition, the institution had to respond to a simple questionnaire concerning the number and types of surgery performed at their facility before and after intervention by the foundation.
We made 140 trips to 27 institutions in 19 countries, with 12 of the visited institutions qualifying for inclusion. Of these, 9 institutions reported an increase in the number and complexity of cases currently being performed in their facility since the team intervened. This goal had not been accomplished in 3 institutions. The reasons for failure included the economic situation of the country, hospital and national politics, personality conflicts, and continued lack of hardware and disposables.
Paediatric cardiac service assistance can improve local services. A significant commitment is required by all parties involved.
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