Experiences of nurses on the critical shortage of medical equipment at a rural district hospital in South Africa: a qualitative study
Introduction: Medical equipment is an essential health intervention tool used by nurses for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and for rehabilitation of patients. However, access to functioning medical equipment is a challenge in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization estimated that 50 to 80 percent of medical equipment in developing countries is not working, creating a barrier to the ability of the health system to deliver health services to patients. This study explored and described the lived experiences of nurses working at a district hospital with a critical shortage of medical equipment. Methods: A qualitative, exploratory, phenomenological and descriptive study design was used. A purposive sampling was used to select participants and due to saturation of data 14 nurses participated in the study. Research ethics were observed. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews using an interview guide. Interviews were audio-taped and field notes were taken. Voice recordings were transcribed verbatim and Tesch’s open coding method was used for data analysis. Findings were confirmed by an independent coder. Results: Critical shortage of medical equipment at the hospital occurred in the form of unavailability of equipment, low quality and poor maintenance of the few that were available. Shortage impacted negatively on nursing care, nursing profession and the hospital. Conclusion: Nurses should be provided with functional medical equipment in order to provide quality nursing care. Management, leadership and governance structures should be strengthened to ensure that procurement and maintenance plans for medical equipment are developed and implemented.