Carbon monoxide poisoning: Medical students’ knowledge towards its safety
Background: Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odourless, colourless, non-irritating, and poisonous gas produced by incomplete combustion of organic materials. It is particularly dangerous as it cannot be detected by man’s natural sense organs. There is hardly a month without one or two newspaper reports of death attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Objective: To determine the students’ knowledge about carbon monoxide poisoning, and their ability to identify victims suspected of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Methodology: A descriptive, cross-sectional study was carried out among 216 medical students. A total survey was done using a self-administered, semi-structured questionnaire.
Result: The mean age of the students was 24.4 ± 3.4years. One hundred and forty-six (67.6%) were males while 70(32.4%) were females. Eighty-seven (41.2%) of the respondents had good knowledge of the physical characteristics of carbon monoxide, while 127(58.8%) had poor knowledge of carbon monoxide. Their knowledge about carbon monoxide was significantly influenced by their level of training (p=0.0008). Seventy-four (57.4%) of the respondents at the clinical stage, and 20.7% of the respondents in the preclinical stage had good knowledge of the features of carbon monoxide poisoning in a victim. This difference was statistically significant (p=0.0000). The most commonly identified feature of CO poisoning was dizziness 151(72.2%) while the least identified feature was headache(88 or 42.1%).
Conclusion: There is need to properly educate the medical students about carbon monoxide poisoning during their course of training both in the preclinical and clinical stages. The teaching should be practically applied to stimulate retentive memory. This is because the proportion of respondents that had good knowledge of carbon monoxide poisoning was not appreciable.
Key Words: Carbon monoxide, poisoning, knowledge, medical students.