Characteristics and capabilities of emergency departments in Abuja, Nigeria

Emerg Med J. 2012 Oct;29(10):798-801. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2011-200695. Epub 2011 Nov 2.


Objectives: Emergency departments (ED) are the basic unit of international emergency medicine, but often differ in fundamental features. This study sought to describe and characterise ED in the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja.

Methods: All ED open 24 h/day 7 days/week to the general public were surveyed using the national ED inventories survey instrument ( ED staff were asked about ED characteristics with reference to calendar year 2008.

Results: Twenty-four ED participated (83% response). All were located in hospitals, which ranged in size from six to 250 beds. The majority (92% CI 73% to 100%) had a contiguous layout with medical and surgical care provided in one area. All ED saw both adults and children, with a median of 1500 annual visits (IQR 648-2328). Almost half of respondents (46%; CI 26% to 67%) thought their ED operated under capacity, none thought that their ED was over capacity. Only 4% of ED surveyed had dedicated CT scanners, 25% had cardiac monitoring and none had negative-pressure rooms. There was wide variation in the types of emergencies that were identified as being treatable 24 h/day 7 days/week; these appeared to correlate with ED consultant availability.

Conclusions: Although ED location and layout in Abuja do not differ greatly from that in a typical US city, ED utilisation was lower and fewer resources and capabilities were available. The lack of technological and human resources raise questions about what critical technologies are needed in resource-limited settings, and whether Nigeria should consider training emergency medicine physicians to meet its workforce needs.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Nigeria
  • Surveys and Questionnaires