Appendectomy…In Ghana or the U.S.?

Every month the US Embassy offers continuing professional development for medical care providers.  It’s specifically directed towards physicians practicing here in Ghana.  I learned about it shortly after moving here and was given permission to attend the sessions even though I’m only a nurse.  Usually the embassy shows lectures and educational videos of Continuing Medical Education sessions from the US.  Afterwards, there is discussion about how things are currently done in Ghana and whether the recommendations can work here.  Interestingly enough, I learned that the US has a higher death rate when someone has appendicitis, because they do tests like ultrasounds to verify the diagnosis before proceeding with surgery.  The time that it takes to get the test and wait for results can sometimes be too long, leading to a ruptured appendix and sometimes death.  Here in Ghana, the equipment may be available but isn’t always functional.  The doctors are also more likely to proceed with surgery without the test and verify the diagnosis once in surgery.  Although no one wants to get cut open to find out that the appendix isn’t the problem and something else is, it actually saves lives!  Sometimes surgeons in the US also acknowledge that the eye can reveal more than tests.  These surgeries have the words “exploratory” or “diagnostic” in the name.  Who would have thought?



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