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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 60-65

Discharge against medical advice: Experience from a rural Nigerian hospital

1 Department of Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
2 Department of Community Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti, Nigeria
3 Department of Medicine, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria
4 Department of Internal Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Joseph O Fadare
Department of Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0331-3131.133098

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Introduction: Discharge against medical advice (DAMA) is a worldwide problem with negative health and socioeconomic effects. Factors that have been implicated as causes or contributing to DAMA include financial constraints, lack of health insurance, deteriorating clinical condition of the patient, and problematic doctor-patient relationships. Aims: determine the incidence and profiles ofDAMA on the medical wards, so as to allows for evidence-based interventions to reduce this problem to a minimum. Materials and Methods: This was a case-control study carried out on the medical wards of Federal Medical Center, Ido-Ekiti, South-West Nigeria. The medical records of all patients admitted to the male and female medical wards between January 2008 and April 2011 were reviewed. After being identified through the admission/discharge log, patients who were DAMA and a similar number of patients with regular discharge had their case notes retrieved. Information extracted included bio-data, diagnosis, duration of hospital stay, and reason for discharge. Results: One hundred and thirty-eight patients representing 7.2% were DAMA during the study period. Ninety five cases had complete medical records, and full analysis was carried out on these and 94 other cases with regular discharge as control. The mean age of the DAMA cases was 50.8 ± 18.3 years, with 58 (61.1%) of these patients being male; while the mean age of the control group was 54.1 ± 16.5, of which 54 (57.4%) were male. The mean duration of admission for patients with DAMA was 10.4 ± 9.2 days as against 11.9 ± 10 in the control group, a difference that is not statistically significant. The associations between type of discharge, sex, and duration of admission are shown through odds ratios of 0.883 and 0.833 respectively. Financial problems (48%), lack of clinical improvement (28.8%) and leaving to seek alternative/complimentary medical care (23.1%) were the factors found to be responsible for DAMA in the study. Conclusion: The incidence of discharge against medicine is high in this study. There is a need for all stakeholders to evaluate factors responsible for DAMA, with the aim of reducing this trend.

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