Compliance with universal precautions in Northern Kwa–Zula Natal operating theatres
Massinga, Zanele Elizabeth
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There is an increase in HIV/AIDS and other blood borne diseases. Health care workers are often exposed to blood and body fluids and thus prone to blood borne infections. Preventative measures can be taken to prevent health workers from contracting these diseases. However, health care workers need to stringently apply these measures. Universal precautions against blood borne infections include diligent hygiene practices, such as hand washing and drying, appropriate handling and disposal of sharp objects, prevention of needle stick or sharp injuries, appropriate handling of patient care equipment and soiled linen, environmental cleaning and spills management, appropriate handling of waste as well as protective clothing such as gloves, gowns, aprons, masks and protective eyewear. This study is aimed at investigating compliance with universal precautions in operating theatres in Northern KwaZulu–Natal as well as perceptions of registered nurses working in these operating theatres regarding factors influencing compliance in order to contribute to measures to limit the risk of infection to patients and health care workers. A sequential explanatory design, mixed–method (quantitative and qualitative) was used to explore the use of universal precautions in operating theatres in the Northern Kwa–Zulu Natal. In the first phase, the sample consisted of practices in operating theatres of six hospitals and one regional hospital in area 3 of Kwa–Zulu Natal. The adapted structured checklist based on an established document developed by the MASA Committee for Science and Education (1995) was pilot tested. The collected data was statistically analysed and interpreted with the help of a statistician using SPSS. The results of Phase 1 were used as a base for the Phase 2 questions. Three focus group interviews were conducted with professional nurses who were observed during Phase 1 at the selected hospitals. Findings from quantitative data show that although health care workers take precautions to prevent infections, they do not attain full compliance to universal precautions. The qualitative data indicated that the reasons for non–compliance amongst others were the lack of knowledge of universal precautions, communication factors, resources, including maintenance of equipment, lack of supplies and shortage of human resources and attitudes of health care workers.
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