[The verbal autopsy on children with a respiratory infection and acute diarrhea. An analysis of the disease-care-death process].Bol Med Hosp Infant Mex. 1993 Jan; 50(1):7-16.BM
The study focuses on children between 72 hours and five years of age who died of acute respiratory infection (ARI) or acute diarrhea (AD) in the State of Tlaxcala. Peer Review Mortality Committee of the State contributed with the staff to the deaths analysis. Cases were included only when diagnosis was confirmed by verbal autopsy (VA). One hundred and thirty two cases were included (98 corresponding to ARI deaths and 34 to AD). The process related to medical care-seeking behaviors and prescribing practices by private and non-private physicians was analyzed through the VA. During the study period, 60% of children with ARI and 58.9% of children with AD died at home. More than 80% of these children had received medical care within three days preceding their death, and 50% of them had been seen by a physician within 12 hours prior to their death. Most of these visits were to a private doctor (71% for ARI and 86% for AD). Forty seven percent of treatments prescribed for ARI were judged to be wrong, either because of a bad choice of antibiotic or because the physician did not prescribe an antibiotic when the patient required it. Similarly, 65% of treatments for AD were considered erroneous, either due to the use of an antibiotic which was not justified or due to the lack of oral rehydration therapy when it was needed. Additionally, late referral to a hospital was considered as having direct influence at the death in half of the consultation. Families were too late in demanding medical care or demanded no care at all in 21.9% of cases of ARI and in 6.1% of cases of AD. We have found the VA to be useful in identifying problems related to the process of health-seeking behaviors and medical care. Our results suggest interventions that may lower the high mortality rates in Tlaxcala, such as training workshops directed to institutional and private physicians, and the implementation of top-of-line treatment centers where high-risk patients can be referred and also the health care workers can learn the correct treatment of both diseases. Future studies should focus on the identification of alarm signs and risk factors that may help to lower mortality due to ARI or AD, when recognized and treated at early stages.