Patient Information Following Emergency Laparoscopy for Right Iliac Fossa Pain

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Laparoscopy is increasingly used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in the management of emergency surgical admissions. Laparoscopic scars give little clue to the operation performed. Hence, the future assessment of patients re-admitted with abdominal pain, often needs to rely on the patient’s own account of the operation performed. This study attempted to evaluate the quality of communication between surgeons and patients regarding the results of their laparoscopy and how much information was retained by the patients on discharge. Seventy-seven patients were identified from computerised medical records. A detailed case note review was undertaken looking at operative findings, procedure performed, and documentation of surgeon-to-patient communication. A questionnaire was posted to patients asking their opinion regarding the quality of communication from surgeons. The questionnaire asked specific questions regarding the patient’s understanding of the operation performed and its findings. Overall communication between surgeons and patients was good. However, a small proportion of patients were unsure of their diagnosis and what therapeutic procedure had been performed following laparoscopy. This included one patient (out of 28 who had undergone laparoscopic appendectomy) who was unsure if their appendix had been removed. Two from 12 patients diagnosed with pelvic pathology at laparoscopy who were unclear of their diagnosis and two patients with histologically normal appendices who thought their appendices had been inflamed at removal. Greater effort must be made to inform patients of their laparoscopic findings and any therapeutic procedure performed. We recommend the use of written information leaflets to be sent to the patient’s home address to ensure that all patients are fully aware of their laparoscopic findings. For any future emergency admission, the patient’s knowledge of any previous surgery and whether their appendix is in situ is of considerable diagnostic value to the assessing clinician. More effort must be made to enable patients to retain such necessary information.

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