Objective: Hand infections are a common presentation to health services in the Northern Territory; however, little is known about these patients. This study aims to identify incidence, treatment and co-morbidities of hand infection patients and to pinpoint factors associated with poor outcome. Design: A retrospective study of all patients presenting to Alice Springs Hospital with a hand infection during 2012. Setting: Orthopaedic Unit at Alice Springs Hospital. Participants: All patients admitted with a hand infection were included. Main outcome measures: Admission duration, duration waited before first presentation, re-admission rate, duration of re-admission and rate of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Results: One hundred fourteen cases of hand infections were admitted to Alice Springs Hospital during 2012, of which 87 (76%) were in Indigenous patients. Indigenous patients (P = 0.001) and older patients (P = 0.038) had significantly longer admissions. Indigenous patients were 9.52 times (P = 0.038) more likely to be re-admitted than non-Indigenous patients. The rate of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was 24.6%, and this was associated with smoking (P = 0.049) and substance abuse (P = 0.036). Formal follow-up was not related to indirect measures of hand infection severity, such as admission duration or re-admissions. Conclusion: Hand infections are a common presentation to Alice Springs Hospital. Indigenous people are admitted 2.38 times longer after adjusting for age and alcohol abuse. They have a more than ninefold chance of being re-admitted to hospital than non-Indigenous people following a hand infection.
- Aboriginal health
- Hand infection