oa South African Family Practice - Intubation and mechanical ventilation : knowledge of medical officers at a South African secondary hospital : research
Background : Medical officers frequently need to initiate the management of critically ill patients requiring endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. The knowledge of hospital-based medical officers at a South African secondary hospital was evaluated on indications for endotracheal intubation and the initiation of mechanical ventilation in adults (defined as persons aged 13 years and older).
Method : Data were collected through questionnaires using 18 multiple-choice questions. Questionnaires consisted of a short test on the basic principles of intubation and the initiation of mechanical ventilation.
Results : Forty-four medical officers participated in this study, conducted in 2008. The mean test score for medical officers taking the test was 6.2, with a range of 2-10, out of a possible 15 marks. 77.3% of participants answered fewer than half of the questions correctly. Nobody answered more than 70% of the questions correctly. More than two thirds of the medical officers could not correctly identify indications for endotracheal intubation, 97.7% of medical officers could not correctly identify all of the contraindications to orotracheal intubation, and 97.7% were unable to choose appropriate initial ventilator settings.
Conclusion : Most medical officers at this secondary hospital were lacking in essential knowledge needed to make decisions on which patients required intubation and how to initiate mechanical ventilation. Pre- and postgraduate training on these basic principles needs to improve.
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