Study Shows Step Doctors Skip in Treating Children in Kenyan Public Hospitals

A new study has found that almost half of the children treated at public hospitals do not have their vital signs checked as required by the standard medical practice procedures.

The findings have raised concerns as current statistics indicate that one in every 10 children die as a result of failed basic care.

In the survey, researchers followed 54,000 children who were admitted to 13 county referral facilities.

Vital signs in 43% of the cases in the study were not recorded before the admission of the children.

Vital signs include pulse rate, body temperature and respiration rate. These indicators of life were further left unmonitored in a majority of the cases studied.

According to the researchers, when doctors fail to conduct the basic physical exam, many cases were misdiagnosed and the doctor ended up giving poor care to the patient as it would be difficult to not changes in the patient's condition.

"Our data raise concerns that in practice, inaccurate respiratory rate measures are likely to result in the misclassification of pneumonia, poor targetting of treatments and inability to detect deterioration or improvement," the researchers noted.

They further raised concerns over the high number of pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses in Kenya despite the sustained use of flu vaccine as well as the PCV10 pneumonia vaccine.

The survey also noted that most public hospitals are understaffed with nurses expected to handle between 10 and 41 beds each.

The study was conducted by the Clinical Information Network in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, Kenya Medical Research Institute, University of Nairobi and the Kenya Paediatric Association.