Evaluation of N95 respirator mask compliance in a selected hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbhele, Zandile Benediltor.
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Introduction Airborne infection control strategies to prevent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) transmission have long been a neglected component of tuberculosis (TB) control programmes. The challenges facing health care workers (HCWs) are that of occupational acquired TB and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The emerging infectious diseases such as blood borne viruses and HIV in recent years have created new challenges for all HCWs including students who may be interacting with infected patients and clients during their clinical exposure. Microbes transmitted by airborne droplets or contact routes often generate anxieties and fears of being infected among HCWs and students particularly when placed in units having high risk patients/clients. Objectives of the study The study objectives were threefold: To evaluate the level of N95 respirator mask compliance among HCWs in the selected hospital; to determine the perceived barriers to compliance regarding the use of the N95 respirator masks by the HCWs of the selected hospital. To evaluate compliance with infection prevention and control policy, and administration and environmental control strategies related to N95 respirator masks in the selected hospital. Method A quantitative, non-experimental and descriptive design was used to conduct the study. A sample of 280 HCWs working in the selected institution met the inclusion criteria for this study. 98.5 % (n=276) were nurses and 1.5% (n =4) were doctors. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data and the SPSS version 22 was used for data analysis. Results Compliance with the use of N95 respirator mask was measured and evaluated as low in the study. N = 208 (74.6%) respondents reported that they do not wear the N95 respirator mask as a habitual inclination. N = 204 (72.9%) respondents reported that there was no respiratory protection programme in the institution. N = 270 (92.6%) respondents reported they were not medically evaluated before being permitted to wear the N95 respirator mask and N = 270 (96.4%) respondents reported that they were not fit tested. Barriers to the use of the N95 respirator masks included the unavailability of the N95 masks in the facility, high environmental temperatures, unavailability of respiratory protection policies, and that the N95 mask is uncomfortable and hinders communication. Administrative and environmental measures to control TB are not available Recommendations It is recommended that compliance with the respiratory protection programme in the health care facilities of the province of KwaZulu-Natal as a whole be further researched in future, that N95 masks be made available, and that a respiratory protection policy is made available to the HWCs. Key words: Compliance, HCWs, N95 respirator masks, respiratory programme, fit test, medical evaluation, and TB prevention and control.