Advice given to patients about return to work and driving following surgery


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Abstract

BackgroundThe post-operative advice given to patients by health care practitioners regarding return to work and return to driving may have an impact upon their absence duration. The only guidance that is readily available to assist health care practitioners give this advice is provided by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).AimsTo identify what advice local consultant surgeons, occupational physicians and general practitioners give to patients about return to work and driving, following benign abdominal hysterectomy (BAH) and Birmingham hip resurfacing (BHR). To explore health care practitioners’ awareness of the DWP evidence-based return to work guidelines.MethodA questionnaire was administered to 216 health care practitioners, asking them about the advice they would give to patients undergoing BAH or BHR, regarding return to driving and return to work.ResultsFifty-eight per cent of all health care practitioners that responded were unaware of the DWP evidence-based guidance. Seventy-four per cent of occupational physicians were aware of this guidance but only 32% of general practitioners and 0% of hospital specialists. The advice given regarding expected duration of sickness absence was very variable, ranging between 2 weeks and >12 weeks for both BAH and BHR procedures. Twenty-one different operative ‘patient information sheets’ were examined and these included only very brief and very general advice about return to work.ConclusionNational guidance on post-operative return to work advice could be beneficial. The guidance should be supported by health care practitioners and provide advice about normal ranges of time to return to driving and to return to work.

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