Knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding handling mercury containing medical devices among nurses in a tertiary care paediatric hospital in Sri Lanka

Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal used in many medical devices in the healthcare sector, making nurses one of the vulnerable occupational groups. This study assessed knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding handling mercury containing devices and factors associated with knowledge among nurses in a paediatric hospital in Sri Lanka. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among nurses (n?=?538) working in Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Sri Lanka. Information on the use of mercury containing medical devices, accidental exposure, management of spillage and disposal was gathered using a self-administered questionnaire. A total of 472 nurses responded with a response rate of 87.7%. Of the 347 mercury thermometer users, 67.1% had experienced breakages while among 405 mercury sphygmomanometer users, 20.0% had experienced mercury spillages, during a three-month period prior to the study. A majority (56.8%) had ‘good’ overall knowledge regarding mercury and its adverse effects while 94.1% had favourable attitudes towards protecting themselves/others from mercury. Practices related to managing a mercury spill were poor. Work experience >10 years (p?=?0.032) and favourable attitude (p?=?0.007) were associated with good knowledge while having a training on managing a mercury spillage was not (p?=?0.850). The authors concluded that gaps in practices on managing a mercury spillage were evident. Current training programmes were not found to be effective.

Authors: Sewanee SJ; Gunawardena NS. ;Full Source: Work. 2016 Sep 27. [Epub ahead of print] ;