A descriptive study of the structure and process standards in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the University Central Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) in Rwanda.
Twahirwa, Timothee Shahidi.
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Introduction Patient safety IS fundamental to quality health and nursmg care and the ongomg improvement of patient safety is one of the most urgent issues facing health care today. Quality health and nursing care is a process which can be monitored, but which requires ongoing evaluation and change. The poor quality of patient care is a major problem of many hospitals in Rwanda and the University Central Hospital of Kigali, (CHUK), is no exception, especially in the Intensive Care Unit, (ICU). (Rwanda Ministry of Health Report, 2005). Pmpose of study The purpose of this study was to describe and explore the structure and processes of quality patient care at CHUK Intensive Care Unit, using the JFICM minimum standards, in order to improve the current quality of patient care and to further highlight gaps that might exist in this care for further research. Methodology The research was conducted in the Intensive Care Unit at CHUK. A checklist and self-reporting questionnaires, which were developed by the researcher, guided by the Joint Faculty ofIntensive Care Medicine (2003), constituted the instrument for this study. The sample consisted of 41 participants who were health care workers in the ICU and 20 of the patient's files. These files were used for researcher's observations during the period of data collection being 20thJune to 20th July 2008. A descriptive quantitative design was used. Results Design: While the ICU was in a self contained area with easy access to other departments the actual work environment did not comply with the recommendations of the JFICM (2003) minimum standards ofICU. ICU staffing: The staff consisted of only 1 medical doctor consultant and three specialist anesthetists. There were 11 Registered nurses (RNs) and 16 Enrolled nurses (ENs). A physiotherapist and dietician were available, but there was no biomedical engineer. The quantity of equipment was not adequate for the workload in the unit. There were no guidelines or protocols for nursing care and the unit had neither in-service training programmes nor research programmes available to the medical and nursing staff. While vital signs, ECG and oxygen were well monitored by using the nursing file (Appendix 10), the monitoring of patients was done without any guidelines or written procedures. The nursing reports, also, did not follow any guideline or procedure. Communications were generally poor because of the lack of equipment. The phone was not working for most of the time and there was no biotechnical engineer available to monitor the material and equipment. Conclusion According to the analysis of the structure and process standard based on JFICM (2003), the minimum standard of quality of ICU patient care at CHUK needs to be improved because the unit does not comply with an appropriate design, fulfil the staffing and operational requirements, or have the necessary equipment. Due to the shortage of qualified staff, plus the unavailability of protocols or guidelines, the processes of quality patient care were inadequate and need to be improved.