BACKGROUND: Additional approaches are needed to identify and provide targeted interventions to populations at continued risk for HIV-associated mortality. We sought to describe care utilization and mortality following an index hospitalization for people with HIV in South Africa.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study among hospitalized patients admitted to medicine wards at a single hospital serving a large catchment area. Participants were followed to 6 months post-discharge. Hospital records were used to describe overall admission numbers and inpatient mortality. Poisson regression was used to assess for associations between readmission or death and independent variables.
RESULTS: Of 124 enrolled participants, 121 lived to hospital discharge. At the time of discharge the median length of stay of sampled patients was 5.5 days and 105 (87%) participants were referred for follow-up, most within 2 weeks of discharge. By 6 months post-discharge, only 18% of participants had attended the clinic to which they were referred and within the referred timeframe; 64 (53%) had been readmitted at least once and 31 (26%) had died. Self-reported skipping care due to difficulty in access (relative risk 1.3, p = 0.02) and not attending follow-up care on time or at the scheduled clinic or not attending clinic at all (relative risk 1.8 and 2.4, respectively, p = 0.001) were associated with readmission or mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: The post-hospital period is a period of medical vulnerability and high mortality. Improving post-hospital retention in care may reduce post-hospital mortality.