PERCEPTION OF ANAESTHESIA AND THE ANAESTHETIST AMONG ADULT SURGICAL PATIENTS IN A TERTIARY FACILITY IN NIGERIA.
The scope of anaesthesia has broadened beyond the intraoperative care of surgical patients to include pain management, resuscitation and intensive care. Despite the key role anaesthesia plays in patient management, many misconceptions are still entertained by patients concerning the speciality.
This prospective, descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, to determine the perception of surgical patients concerning the anaesthetist as a specialist and anaesthesia as a speciality. The hospital is a tertiary, multispecialty health institution located in the north central region of Nigeria.
A questionnaire was administered to the patients to assess the patients’ demographic data, type of surgery and the knowledge of the patient concerning the existence of the speciality of anaesthesia. The patients' knowledge on the qualification of an anaesthetist and the patient’s ability to recognise an anaesthetist in a picture were also assessed. Only ASA I and II patients scheduled for surgical procedures under general anaesthesia were recruited into the study.
Sixty-five percent of respondents had no previous knowledge of anaesthesia before the index admission. One hundred and thirty-three (53.3%) respondents were not able to identify the healthcare personnel that would administer anaesthesia for their surgery. Only 40.6% patients realised that an anaesthetist was a medical doctor while 39.6% patients responded that the anaesthetist was a specialist in his field. Perception of anaesthesia was better of respondents who had been educated to tertiary level and those who had previous knowledge of anaesthesia.
We conclude that surgical patients demonstrated inadequate knowledge concerning the field of anaesthesia and the anaesthetist as a specialist.