Journal of Medicine in the Tropics

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Hand hygiene practices among doctors in a tertiary health facility in southern Nigeria

V Omuemu, EO Ogboghodo, RA Opene, P Oriarewo


Background: Hand washing is a cheap and effective method of limiting the spread of health care associated infections, but compliance has been reported to be low worldwide, especially in developing countries.
Objective: To determine the knowledge and practice of hand hygiene  among doctors in a tertiary health facility in southern Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: This cross.sectional, descriptive study was carried out among all cadres of doctors employed by the hospital. Data were  collected using a pretested, semistructured, self.administered  questionnaire as well as by direct observation of a subsample of the  doctors using an observational checklist. Data analysis was done using the SPSS version 16.0 statistical package and level of significance was set at P < 0.05.
Results: A total of 326 doctors participated in the study and one third of these (108) were directly observed. Less than half of the respondents had good knowledge (43.9%) and good practice (48.2%) of hand hygiene.  However, on direct observation, the overall compliance rate was 16.7%. Sex and specialty of the respondents were significantly associated with knowledge but not with practice of hand hygiene. The reasons mentioned for noncompliance included: Lack of hand hygiene materials like soap and water (65.0%), forgetfulness (35.0%), too busy/insufficient time (19.3%), inconvenient location of sinks (16.9%), the use of gloves (7.1%), and skin irritation from washing agents (4.6%).
Conclusion: This study revealed a very low hand hygiene compliance rate among doctors in a tertiary health facility in the southern part of Nigeria and also highlighted some of the contributory factors. It is recommended that an institution.wide hand hygiene promotion campaign be embarked upon.

Key words: Hand hygiene, health care workers, Nigeria, practice, tertiary health facility
AJOL African Journals Online