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This article is the author's final published version in PLoS ONE, Volume 16, Issue 5, May 2021, Article number e0251321.

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Copyright © 2021 Hopkinson et. al.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


PURPOSE: Few studies have assessed the presentation, management, and outcomes of sepsis in low-income countries (LICs). We sought to characterize these aspects of sepsis and to assess mortality predictors in sepsis in two referral hospitals in Rwanda.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study in two public academic referral hospitals in Rwanda. Data was abstracted from paper medical records of adult patients who met our criteria for sepsis.

RESULTS: Of the 181 subjects who met eligibility criteria, 111 (61.3%) met our criteria for sepsis without shock and 70 (38.7%) met our criteria for septic shock. Thirty-five subjects (19.3%) were known to be HIV positive. The vast majority of septic patients (92.7%) received intravenous fluid therapy (median = 1.0 L within 8 hours), and 94.0% received antimicrobials. Vasopressors were administered to 32.0% of the cohort and 46.4% received mechanical ventilation. In-hospital mortality for all patients with sepsis was 51.4%, and it was 82.9% for those with septic shock. Baseline characteristic mortality predictors were respiratory rate, Glasgow Coma Scale score, and known HIV seropositivity.

CONCLUSIONS: Septic patients in two public tertiary referral hospitals in Rwanda are young (median age = 40, IQR = 29, 59) and experience high rates of mortality. Predictors of mortality included baseline clinical characteristics and HIV seropositivity status. The majority of subjects were treated with intravenous fluids and antimicrobials. Further work is needed to understand clinical and management factors that may help improve mortality in septic patients in LICs.

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