A survey of oral care practices in South African intensive care units
Objectives. The aim of this study was to describe current oral care interventions for ventilated patients in South African ICUs. The objectives of the study were to determine the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs and training of ICU nurses who render oral care; the type and frequency of oral care delivered to ventilated patients; hospital support and supplies available; and the availability of oral care protocols in the ICU.
Methods. A quantitative, prospective, cross-sectional research design was used.
Approval to conduct the study was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee, University of the Witwatersrand. The study population consisted of nurses working in ICUs who provide oral care to ventilated patients.
Results. Almost all the nurses perceived oral care to be a high priority. Nurses were generally aware of the most likely mechanism of acquiring pneumonia. The type and frequency of oral care varied widely. Most nurses stated that they had adequate time and supplies to provide oral care. The majority of nurses had had some formal training in oral care, but would appreciate an opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills.
Conclusions. There are a variety of oral care practices for ventilated patients. The introduction of evidence-based oral care guidelines into units that do not at present have these guidelines may further enhance best practice and ensure that patient outcomes are not compromised unnecessarily.
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Date published: 2011-11-02
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