Assessment of the knowledge of usage of blood and blood products amongst medical doctors in the Department of Medicine at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand affiliated academic hospitals

Background Rational and appropriate use of blood and blood products is important in a resource limited setting. Proper education is required in decision-making and management with regard to blood transfusion. Current knowledge status is required in order to identify target areas of teaching. Objective To assess the knowledge regarding blood and blood products among doctors of varying ranks at the University of the Witwatersrand affiliated academic hospitals. Research design and methods This is an observational, descriptive study using a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire was divided into sections covering areas of red blood cells, platelets, plasma products, consent, blood ordering and side effects with a total of 40 questions, approximately equally distributed in each of the above sections. A section on the demographics of the participants as well as an opinion section of how to impart further information was also included comprising of 2 questions each. Results A response rate of 33% was obtained from the distributed questionnaires. The average score obtained for the questionnaire was 61% amongst all the doctors. The consultants achieved the highest score of 64%. In comparison, the interns, who averaged 56%, achieved the lowest score. The medical officers and registrars both averaged 63%. The community service doctors averaged 58%. A similar gradient was seen across the different sections of the questionnaire. Participants scored the best in the section pertaining to ‘consent’ with a score of 87%. The next best score (64%) was achieved for the section regarding ‘side effects’. The section regarding ‘red blood cell usage’ and ‘blood product ordering’ was scored at 60%. The section with regards to ‘platelets usage’ achieved a score of 44%. The lowest score was achieved in the section regarding ‘plasma product usage’, i.e. 30%. A statistically significant gap in knowledge was noted from intern up to medical officer level, after which the increase in knowledge up to consultant level was not found to be statistically significant. Conclusions The overall results obtained appear to be suboptimal and can be improved upon significantly. Formalized and on-going teaching around blood and blood product usage is required at the University of the Witwatersrand affiliated hospitals, at all levels, from interns through to consultants to ensure that this scarce, but invaluable resource is used judiciously and appropriately.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Medicine in Internal Medicine. Johannesburg, 2017.