How knowledgeable is the recovery room nurse you entrust your patient to about postoperative airway emergencies?
Introduction: Respiratory complications remain an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the post anaesthetic period. This study aimed to describe the knowledge of postoperative airway emergencies of recovery room nurses attending two separate anaesthetic symposia held in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Methods: A cross-sectional research design was followed by means of an anonymous, self-administered, previously described questionnaire using a convenience sampling method.
Results: A total of 309 nurses took part in the study, 116 (37.5%) and 193 (62.5%) in Cape Town and Johannesburg, respectively. Of the nurses, 279 (90.3%) were female, had a mean (SD) age of 44.6 (10.4) years (n = 198) and had 11.5 (9.2) years of operating room experience (n = 304). One hundred and fifty (50.8%) were registered nurses and 196 (62.5%) worked in the private sector. The overall mean score obtained by the nurses was 40.4% (SD 17.9), with a range of 0–88%. This is 30% below the predetermined competency score of ≥ 70%, which was achieved by only 24 (7.8%) nurses. The lowest median (IQR) scores, 16.7% (0–33.3) and 16.7% (0–50) were obtained in the clinical signs and treatment sections of the questionnaire, respectively.
Conclusion: This study showed that the nurses sampled had poor knowledge of postoperative airway emergencies in the recovery room. Legal action in the healthcare environment is a reality in South Africa. The anaesthetist remains accountable for ongoing patient care in the recovery room until discharge. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that anaesthetists know how knowledgeable the recovery room nurses whom they entrust their patients to are regarding postoperative airway emergencies.
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