Aim: Standard precautions are the pillars of infection prevention and control. However, they are often poorly understood and under implemented by health care workers. This study aimed at assessing the knowledge, attitude and practice of standard precautions by healthcare workers at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Nigeria.
Methods: A descriptive cross- sectional study was conducted using a self-administered structured questionnaire to assess the knowledge, attitude and practice of 138 doctors, nurses, laboratory technologists and ward attendants who were selected using a two-stage sampling technique. Their knowledge, attitude and practice with respect to hand washing, use of personal protective equipment, post-exposure prophylaxis, immunization and injection safety were assessed.
Results: Overall, awareness of standard precautions was high among respondents (85.5%). Awareness was significantly higher among nurses, doctors, and laboratory technologists, than in ward attendants (P<0.001).
Ward attendants were less trained, less immunized, had lower knowledge and demonstrated less compliance with hand washing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and post-exposure prophylaxis compared with other categories of healthcare workers (P< 0.001).
Compliance with disposal of used needles in sharp containers was 83.3%, with no significant relationship with professional group (P = 0.098).
Non-availability of materials and inadequate training were perceived to be major hindrances to the implementation of standard precautions.
Conclusion: The level of awareness and practice of standard precautions was good among health workers except for ward attendants. Inadequate materials and lack of training contributed to poor compliance with standard precautions. Regular training is recommended with emphasis placed on education of lower cadre health workers.