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Steps to Better Protect Patients

Steps to Better Protect Patients

New research shows that patients still forget critical details about their proposed operation, shortly after their consultation with their surgeon and that improved communication needs to happen to ensure that patients are better informed.

The research also indicated that providing patients with a booklet of information about their operation would not necessarily guarantee that a patient retained the information.

A paper “Informed Consent – Patients Listen and Read – But What Information do they retain” will be presented today by Dr Perry Turner at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

The scientific gathering attracts up to 1500 medical specialists from around the world and is being held over four days between Tuesday 6 May and Friday 9 May, 2003.

“We found that despite patients receiving and understanding verbal and written information about their operation, from their surgeon in an outpatient appointment, that it was very easily and quickly forgotten,” said Dr Perry Turner Advanced Orthopaedic Registrar at Taranaki Base Hospital.

“Many doctors make the assumption that providing a pamphlet is enough to ensure that a patient has understood details like retention of post-operative recovery time frames and possible operative complications.

“However, it is not only a lot of information to remember but it is often the case there is as much as an 18 month gap between an initial consultation with a surgeon and when the patient actually has the operation. This can lead patients to mistake the fact they haven’t been told important information about their surgery.

“One way to ensure that patients are better informed is having a pre-operative consultation two weeks prior to when the operation is scheduled, to again go over the operation details and answer any questions. This has become increasingly more common in the last four years. Good communication builds rapport and also reinforces the doctor-patient relationship, minimising dissatisfaction with the operation or any complications that may occur.

“It is also important in an increasingly medico-legal environment that doctors also protect themselves by effectively communicating,” he said.

For further information, interview details and photo opportunities contact: Catriona Robertson McMedia Marketing Ltd Tel: 06 308 8852 / 021 243 2058 Email:

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