Snakebites are emergent and life-threatening injuries that may require intensive care. Physicians face difficulties in dealing with snakebite injuries due to the knowledge gaps in the diagnosis and management of snakebites. The study aimed to assess medical students’ knowledge about the diagnosis and management of snakebite injuries, as well as their proficiency in first aid methods in case of snakebite and perception regarding snakes and snakebite injuries.
A cross-sectional study conducted among 200 medical students in their clinical years at An-Najah National University. A questionnaire was developed and distributed among those students. The questionnaire assessed the students’ knowledge regarding the diagnosis and management of snakebites and their attitude regarding snakes and snakebites. The total scores of knowledge were obtained and tested based on the participants’ demographic characteristics using the Kruskal-Wallis test and the Mann-Whitney U test. P-values of < 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.
The mean age of participating medical students was 22.2 ± 2.4 (year). Half of these medical students were in there final year of study (sixth year). After the analysis was done, we found a knowledge deficit in snakebite diagnosis and management among medical students. The mean knowledge scores regarding Vipera palaestinae, signs and symptoms, laboratory investigations, anti-venom, and first aid were 3.8/13, 8.2/16, 6.1/10, 3.6/11 and 8.3/15 respectively for medical students. It was found that medical students in higher years of study had a higher knowledge of laboratory investigation, and males were more knowledgeable in the correct way for first aid methods than females (p < 0.036).
The level of knowledge regarding the diagnosis and management of snakebites was not good enough among most of the students. In order to improve their knowledge, snakebite diagnosis and management should be introduced and focused on in medical curriculum. Also, formal first aid training classes for medical students should be introduced in order to teach them the correct and updated methods of first aid as they will be the future health care providers and proper first aid will effectively decrease morbidity and mortality of snakebites.