External fixator frames are widely used in limb reconstruction surgery. They are used for relatively long periods and the multidimensional impact on patients is documented. We examined the role of a nurse-led specialist group when supporting patients both pre-operatively and postoperatively.PATIENTS AND METHODS
All patients with external fixators were contacted via postal questionnaire. Questions asked covered regularity of attendance at the specialist group, information received and problems with the frames.RESULTS
Thirty-seven patients replied. Twenty-one had attended the clinic and nearly all (32) had been offered the opportunity to attend. Most reported being well prepared for surgery and felt that the information given was satisfactory. Problems were generally addressed within the group and patients attended the group with frame-related problems before attending their general practitioner or the accident and emergency department. All patients found the group environment supportive.CONCLUSIONS
We describe a unique patient support group. To our knowledge, it is the first in the country. It is a valuable resource in equipping patients prior to surgery as well as dealing with problems that arise with the frame in situ. We recommend it to other limb reconstruction units.