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Docs, nurses fail to follow swine flu preventive methods:Study

Doctors and nurses themselves largely fail to practise simple methods which they instruct their patients to prevent the spread of swine flu, a study has said.

Effective method to prevent the spread of H1N1 virus including home quarantine, maintaining a distance of six-feet from a swine flu-affected patient, wearing mask while on duty, proper disposal of the used face mask were least practised by the health care providers, it said.

The study, conducted among 334 health care providers at Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in Delhi, concluded that significant gaps were observed between knowledge and actual practice of the Health Care Provider regarding swine flu.

The healthcare providers are very intellectual, but they do not themselves practice what they preach, it said.

Swine flu spreads mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people infected with the virus.

According to health officials, the nation-wide death toll due to swine flu has gone up to 14 this year alone till now. In 2009-10 and 2010-11, there were over 10,000 positive cases of swine flu in India.

Pune has reported over 100 swine flu cases and 8 deaths alone. The disease has also hit the states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka.

The 334 health-care providers included 161 doctors (57 senior residents, 61 junior residents and 43 interns) and 173 staff nurses.

Though the study revealed that a considerable proportion of doctors (82.6 per cent) and nurses (85 per cent) reported wearing mask while on duty, only 20.4 per cent of the nurses and 14.3 per cent of the doctors actually followed the procedure all the time.

Majority of the nurses (74.6 per cent) as compared with doctors (20.5 per cent) knew that the mask needs to be changed after six hours of use.

The correct practice of removing the face mask (lower string to be untied first) was known to 48 per cent of the doctors and 44.5 percent of the nurses.

Proper disposal of the used face mask (either in a yellow bag or treatment with hypochlorite solution) was practiced by about three-fifths of the doctors as compared with half of the nurses.

"The situation is same till now. Doctors do not practice what they preach when dealing with patients. Swine flu cases have not been reported yet in Delhi this year but it is no more taken seriously as it was done in the initial years when it was reported first here. Our doctors need to be trained about it time and again," a senior doctor with the hospital said.

Surprisingly, about half of the doctors and one-third of the nurses had misconceptions that it can be transmitted by blood; one-fifth of the respondents opined that swine flu can also be spread by consuming food infected with H1N1 virus.

The study was published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine.

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