Ethical issues in knowledge, perceptions, and exposure to hospital hazards by patient relatives in a tertiary institution in North Western Nigeria
Introduction: Patient relatives are a significant part of the health care team in any hospital setting. This study determines their knowledge, perceptions, and factors responsible for their exposure to health hazards at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, Kaduna State. The outcome of this study is intended to help the hospital managers to have a reference to make plans for the patient relatives’ welfare and also address the ethical issues regarding patients’ relatives safety while in the hospital.
Materials and Methods: This is a cross‑sectional descriptive study involving 100 participants selected by systematic random sampling technique from the ten admission wards of the ABUTH. The data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences IBM 20 and STATA SE12.
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 35 years. They were mainly Hausa (58%), female (79%), and Muslims (76%). About 21%, 25%, and 54% of the respondents have poor, fair, and good knowledge, respectively, with a mean knowledge score of 33.3% while 24% perceived that blood urine and feces from patient relatives are safe to handle. Sexual harassment (13.3%), abusive insults from health care workers, (13.3%) and aggression from other patients were reported. Being the sole caregiver, type of illness, handling of patients’ blood and feces, and length of hospital stay were significantly associated with exposure to hospital hazards (P < 0.05, χ2 > 1, odds ratio >1).
Conclusion: The participants’ knowledge and perception of hospital hazard were poor. Abusive insults by health workers, sexual harassment, and indiscriminate handling of patients’ specimen constitute major ethical challenges in this setting. The hospital management should have a guideline specifying the roles and responsibilities of patients and their relatives. There is a need for the health care workers’ ethics education and safe accommodation for patient relatives.
Keywords: Admission, compliance, hazards, hospital ethics, patient relatives