The practice of preoperative assessment in 24 departments of anaesthesia in Great Britain and Ireland was surveyed. Most departments had no rigid policies governing assessment, and many served several hospitals. There was little evidence that admission procedures of patients scheduled for surgery or the organisation of operating lists took account of the problems encountered by anaesthetists undertaking preoperative assessment. From the participating departments 415 anaesthetists completed a questionnaire of their individual practice. Most (57%) visited at least 80% of their patients preoperatively, but 22% saw less than 50% of patients. The detection of potential anaesthetic problems and the establishment of rapport with patients were highly rated reasons for conducting such visits. Failure to visit was often related to organisational defects within the hospital service, and anaesthetists saw little prospect of improving these defects. The demands created by the needs of preoperative assessment on the one hand, and the need for a rapid turnover of surgical patients and financial stringency on the other, conflict, and this conflict is not easily reconciled.
OBJECTIVE--To investigate the incidence of difficulties associated with parental presence during the induction of anaesthesia in children and the influence of premedication with special reference to vomiting after papaveretum. DESIGN--Mixed factual and multiple choice questionnaire completed by medical and nursing staff and parents during and after admission. SETTING--Teaching hospital with regional paediatric general surgical unit where parental presence during induction of anaesthesia is long established. PATIENTS--151 Children aged 1-14 years who had not previously undergone surgery attending with parents for day stay general surgical procedures. INTERVENTION--Children were randomly allocated to receive no premedication (group 1), oral diazepam elixir (0.3 mg/kg) (group 2), or intramuscular papaveretum with hyoscine (0.3 mg/kg with 0.006 mg/kg) (group 3). No other modification to established day stay routine was made. RESULTS--No major problems were associated with the presence of parents during the induction of anaesthesia. Only 10 of the 141 parents who accompanied their child caused some difficulty, and five became distressed. Premedication with both diazepam and papaveretum resulted in sedation but did not ease induction of anaesthesia. Papaveretum greatly reduced pain and distress immediately after the operation, pain and discomfort being observed in only 15% of children (7/48) compared with 66% (27/41) in group 1 and 49% (22/45) in group 2. Papaveretum, however, must be given intramuscularly, and nurses observed that the children preferred being given premedication orally to intramuscularly. In addition, the incidences of nausea and vomiting were significantly higher in the postoperative ward and at home with papaveretum, although no patient who had been given the drug was nauseous or vomited in the recovery area. The incidences of nausea in group 3 were 62% (31/50) and 57% (27/47) in the postoperative ward and at home, respectively, v 21% (7/33) and 14% (4/29) in group 1 and 13% (5/38) and 14% (5/37) in group 2; the incidences of vomiting in group 3 were 60% and 43% in the postoperative ward and at home, respectively, v 18% and 7% in group 1 and 11% and 11% in group 2. Finally, neither the administration or otherwise of premedication nor the drug given affected the children's or parents' perception of day care surgery. CONCLUSIONS--Difficulties with parents in anaesthetic rooms were not common or severe. Premedication provides preoperative sedation and papaveretum improves the immediate postoperative course but the incidences of nausea and vomiting after operation are higher with its use than without.
Goal-directed fluid therapy (GDFT) has been shown to reduce complications and hospital length of stay following major surgery. However, there has been no assessment regarding its use in clinical practice.
An electronic survey was administered to randomly selected anaesthetists from the United Kingdom (UK, n = 2000) and the United States of America (USA, n = 2000), and 500 anaesthetists from Australia/New Zealand (AUS/NZ). Preferences, clinical use and attitudes towards GDFT were investigated. Results were collated to examine regional differences.
The response rates from the UK (n = 708) and AUS/NZ (n = 180) were 35%, and 36% respectively. The response rate from the USA was very low (n = 178; 9%). GDFT use was significantly more common in the UK than in AUS/NZ (p < 0.01). The Oesophageal Doppler Monitor was the most preferred instrument in the UK (n = 362; h76%) with no clear preferences in other regions. GDFT was most commonly utilised in major abdominal surgery and for patients with significant comorbidities. The commonest reasons stated for not using GDFT were either lack of availability of monitoring tools (AUS/NZ: 57 (70%); UK: 94 (64%)) or a lack of experience with instruments (AUS/NZ: 43 (53%); UK: 51 (35%)). A subset of respondents (AUS/NZ: 22(27%); UK: 45 (30%)) felt GDFT provided no perceived benefit. Enthusiasm towards the use of GDFT in the absence of existing barriers was high.
Several hypotheses were generated regarding important differences in the use of GDFT between anaesthetists from the UK and AUS/NZ. There is significant interest in utilising GDFT in clinical practice and existing barriers should be addressed.
Intravenous fluid; Goal-directed fluid therapy; Perioperative care; Surgery
The attitudes of patients' to consent have changed over the years, but there has been little systematic study of the attitudes of anaesthetists and surgeons in this process. We aimed to describe observations made on the attitudes of medical professionals working in the UK to issues surrounding informed consent.
A questionnaire made up of 35 statements addressing the process of consent for anaesthesia and surgery was distributed to randomly selected anaesthetists and surgeons in Queen's Medical Centre (Nottingham), Royal Sussex County Hospital (Brighton) and Eastbourne District General Hospital (Eastbourne) during 2007. Participants were asked to what extent they agreed with statements regarding consent.
Of 234 questionnaires distributed, 63% were returned. Of the respondents 79% agreed that the main purpose of the consent process is to respect patient autonomy. While 55% of the examined cohort agreed that the consent process maybe inappropriate as patients do not usually remember all the information given to them. Furthermore, 84% of the participants agreed that what the procedure aims to achieve should be explained to the patient during the consent process. While of the participants, over 70% agreed that major risks of incidence greater than 1/100 should be disclosed to the patient as part of the consent process.
The majority of respondents appear to hold attitudes in standing with current guidelines on informed consent however there was still a significant minority who held more paternalistic views to the consent process bringing into question the need for further training in the area.
A survey of all anaesthetists in the West Midlands region--that is, 10% of all the anaesthetists in England and Wales--showed that one in 10 of their children had been referred to a consultant because of a congenital or nonacquired anomaly. Abortions among anaesthetists' families were also common but more so when the mother was an anaesthetist. The anomalies were concentrated particularly in the central nervous system and musculoskeletal system, and girls were worst affected. The mean birth weights were below normal, more so when the mothers were anaesthetists. Girls with anomalies were particularly underweight. Other effects observed were unexpected infertility, cancer both in the adults and in the children, and, possibly, impaired intellectual development in the children. Many anaesthetising areas were inadequately ventilated, and scavenging devices despite their inefficiency are recommended as a stopgap measure. The results of the study closely resemble those of other studies with similar high response rates to requests for information.
Chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia is a medical emergency complicating the treatment of many cancer patients. It is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality, as well as impacting on healthcare resources.
A prospective study of all cases of chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia in the South West London Cancer Network was conducted over a 4-month period. Factors including demographics, treatment history, management of febrile neutropenia and outcome were recorded.
Results and conclusi:
Our results reflect those of the recent National Chemotherapy Advisory Group (NCEPOD, 2008)/National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcomes and Death reports (NCAG, 2009) and highlight the need for network-wide clinical care pathways to improve outcomes in this area.
neutropenic sepsis; chemotherapy; infection; febrile neutropenia
Intensive care and its development is part of an evolutionary process in the general organization of hospital medical practice. No new disease process is involved, and this alone should be sufficient to support our view that intensive care does not call for the creation of a new specialty. The experience, skill, and knowledge of anaesthetists qualify them to fill vital roles in intensive care, but it is of paramount importance that in doing so they should neither neglect nor abdicate from their own special field of medical work from which their unique expertise derives.
Previous studies have suggested that exposure to organic solvents, including volatile anaesthetic agents, may be a risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS), possibly in combination with genetic and other environmental factors.
To further investigate the role of volatile anaesthetic agents having similar acute toxic effects to other organic solvents.
Female nurse anaesthetists, other female nurses, and female teachers from middle and upper compulsory school levels were identified and retrieved from the 1985 census, Statistics Sweden. By means of the unique personal identity number in Sweden, these individuals were linked with the disability pension registers at The National Social Insurance Board and also with data on hospital care 1985–2000 at The National Board of Health and Welfare.
The cumulative incidence rate ratio of MS was found to be increased in female nurse anaesthetists in relation to other nurses (statistically not significant) and teachers (statistically significant), respectively.
These findings give some support to previous findings of an increased risk for MS in nurse anaesthetists. This is interesting in the context of previous observations of organic solvents in general as a potential risk factor in MS.
exposure; volatile anaesthetic gases; organic solvents; risk
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is a valuable diagnostic tool, but for an endoscopy service to be effective it is essential that it is not overloaded with inappropriately referred patients. A joint working party in Britain has considered the available literature on indications for endoscopy, assessed standard practice through a questionnaire, and audited randomly selected cases using an independent panel of experts and an American database system. They used these data to produce guidelines on the appropriate and inappropriate indications for referral for endoscopy, although they emphasise that under certain circumstances there may be reasons to deviate from the advice given. The need for endoscopy is most difficult to judge in patients with dyspepsia, and this aspect is discussed in detail. Early endoscopy will often prove more cost effective than delaying until the indications are clearer.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of a preprinted form in ensuring an improved and sustained quality of documentation of clinical data in compliance with the national guidelines for sedation by non-anaesthetists. DESIGN: The process of retrospective case note audit was used to identify areas of poor performance, reiterate national guidelines, introduce a post-sedation advice sheet, and demonstrate improvement. SETTING: Emergency Department, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton. SUBJECTS: Forty seven patients requiring sedation for relocation of a dislocated shoulder or manipulation of a Colles' fracture between July and October 1996 and July and October 1997. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Evidence that the following items had been documented: consent for procedure, risk assessment, monitored observations, prophylactic use of supplementary oxygen, and discharging patients with printed advice. Case note review was performed before (n = 23) and after (n = 24) the introduction of a sedation audit form. Notes were analysed for the above outcome measures. The monitored observations analysed included: pulse oximetry, respiratory rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, electrocardiography, and conscious level. RESULTS: Use of the form significantly improved documentation of most parameters measured. CONCLUSIONS: Introduction of the form, together with staff education, resulted in enhanced documentation of data and improved conformity with national guidelines. A risk management approach to preempting critical incidents following sedation, can be adopted in this area of emergency medicine.
Background: Volatile anaesthetics are chemically related to organic solvents used in industry. Exposure to industrial solvents may increase the incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Aim: To examine the risk among nurse anaesthetists of contracting MS.
Methods: Nurses with MS were identified by an appeal in the monthly magazine of the Swedish Nurse Union and a magazine of the Neurological Patients Association in Sweden. Ninety nurses with MS responded and contacted our clinic. They were given a questionnaire, which was filled in by 85 subjects; 13 of these were nurse anaesthetists. The questionnaire requested information about work tasks, exposure, diagnosis, symptoms, and year. The number of active nurse anaesthetists was estimated based on information from the National Board of Health and Welfare and The Nurse Union. Incidence data for women in the region of Gothenburg and Denmark were used as the reference to estimate the risk by calculation of the standardised incidence ratio (SIR).
Results: Eleven of the 13 nurse anaesthetists were exposed to anaesthetic gases before onset of MS. Mean duration of exposure before diagnosis was 14.4 years (range 4–27 years). Ten cases were diagnosed in the study period 1980–99, resulting in significantly increased SIRs of 2.9 and 2.8 with the Gothenburg and the Danish reference data, respectively.
Conclusion: Although based on crude data and a somewhat approximate analysis, this study provides preliminary evidence for an excess risk of MS in nurse anaesthetists. The risk may be even greater than observed, as the case ascertainment might have been incomplete because of the crude method applied. Further studies in this respect are clearly required to more definitely assess the risk.
The functions of an outpatient anaesthetic clinic are discussed in relation to the first 100 patients who attended. Preoperative assessment excluded 11 patients who would have been refused anaesthesia for elective operations without further treatment. Six of these required preoperative physiotherapy, 4 antihypertensive therapy, and 1 hospital admission for incipient myocardial infarction. The clinic also played an important role with regard to advice and reassurance of the patient from an experienced anaesthetist, organising suitable admission dates, and detecting anaesthetic and surgical hazards, especially dental caries and obesity, which could be corrected before operation. Two patients developed postoperative complications which could not have been foreseen.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the current scale of provision of patient information materials by consultant surgeons in UK NHS and private sector hospitals. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of the responses of 12,555 surgical patients to surveys evaluating surgical services provided by specific consultants. SETTING: 7 NHS Trusts and one private sector hospital distributed throughout the UK. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Provision of information materials by hospital, surgeon, and case-mix. Comparison of this service with patients' evaluations of surgeons' verbal communication in the outpatient clinic. RESULTS: Great variation exists between surgeons of the same specialty, and between hospital surgical directorates as a whole in the routine provision of supportive information materials to patients undergoing surgery. This variation cannot be explained solely by clinical need. Patients treated in private hospitals were less likely to receive information materials compared to patients treated within the NHS. CONCLUSIONS: Provision of printed information materials to patients by clinicians appears to be arbitrary. With the prospect of national performance frameworks in the foreseeable future, it is reasonable to assume that not only will the content of patient information be determined by quality standards but, in addition, its availability will be decided by clinical need rather than the clinician's preferences or interests.
Airway fires are an uncommon but real and devastating complication of tracheostomy. One such fire in a 31-year-old man is described. Surgical fires are discussed, and 15 reported cases of tracheostomy fire are reviewed. A tracheostomy protocol, adopted by our department and designed to avoid this life-threatening complication, is described. Surgeons and anaesthetists involved in tracheostomy must understand the fire hazard and how to avoid it.
There is only limited empirical evidence about the effectiveness of opinion leaders as health care change agents.
To test the feasibility of identifying, and the characteristics of, opinion leaders using a sociometric instrument and a self-designating instrument in different professional groups within the UK National Health Service.
Postal questionnaire survey.
Setting and participants
All general practitioners, practice nurses and practice managers in two regions of Scotland. All physicians and surgeons (junior hospital doctors and consultants) and medical and surgical nursing staff in two district general hospitals and one teaching hospital in Scotland, as well as all Scottish obstetric and gynaecology, and oncology consultants.
Using the sociometric instrument, the extent of social networks and potential coverage of the study population in primary and secondary care was highly idiosyncratic. In contrast, relatively complex networks with good coverage rates were observed in both national specialty groups. Identified opinion leaders were more likely to have the expected characteristics of opinion leaders identified from diffusion and social influence theories. Moreover, opinion leaders appeared to be condition-specific. The self-designating instrument identified more opinion leaders, but it was not possible to estimate the extent and structure of social networks or likely coverage by opinion leaders. There was poor agreement in the responses to the sociometric and self-designating instruments.
The feasibility of identifying opinion leaders using an off-the-shelf sociometric instrument is variable across different professional groups and settings within the NHS. Whilst it is possible to identify opinion leaders using a self-designating instrument, the effectiveness of such opinion leaders has not been rigorously tested in health care settings. Opinion leaders appear to be monomorphic (different leaders for different issues). Recruitment of opinion leaders is unlikely to be an effective general strategy across all settings and professional groups; the more specialised the group, the more opinion leaders may be a useful strategy.
Hospitals must have a major haemorrhage protocol in place and this should include clinical, laboratory and logistic responses.Immediate control of obvious bleeding is of paramount importance (pressure, tourniquet, haemostatic dressings).The major haemorrhage protocol must be mobilised immediately when a massive haemorrhage situation is declared.A fibrinogen < 1 g.l−1 or a prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) of > 1.5 times normal represents established haemostatic failure and is predictive of microvascular bleeding. Early infusion of fresh frozen plasma (FFP; 15 ml.kg−1) should be used to prevent this occurring if a senior clinician anticipates a massive haemorrhage.Established coagulopathy will require more than 15 ml.kg−1 of FFP to correct. The most effective way to achieve fibrinogen replacement rapidly is by giving fibrinogen concentrate or cryoprecipitate if fibrinogen is unavailable.1:1:1 red cell:FFP:platelet regimens, as used by the military, are reserved for the most severely traumatised patients.A minimum target platelet count of 75 × 109.l−1 is appropriate in this clinical situation.Group-specific blood can be issued without performing an antibody screen because patients will have minimal circulating antibodies. O negative blood should only be used if blood is needed immediately.In hospitals where the need to treat massive haemorrhage is frequent, the use of locally developed shock packs may be helpful.Standard venous thromboprophylaxis should be commenced as soon as possible after haemostasis has been secured as patients develop a prothrombotic state following massive haemorrhage.
To test the predictive validity of a selection system for Senior House Officers (SHOs) and registrars in anaesthetics, 140 doctors short-listed from 635 applications between 1980 and 1987 were assessed by a semi-structured interview assessed and a personality questionnaire (Cattell 16PFQ-form C). The 62 doctors selected were followed up for between 3 and 8 years. Future performance was predicted from the psychological tests and by the interviewers. Academic, clinical, behavioural, and overall performance were used as criteria of outcome. Correlation coefficients between prediction and outcome measures were statistically highly significant (P < 0.01). Using multiple regression, equations could be derived from five of the Cattell personality factors to predict overall performance. Personality measures discriminated significantly between the best and poorest performers. Interview predictions were also statistically significant (P < 0.01). The method provides a blueprint for the effective selection of junior anaesthetists. Wastage in terms of those leaving the specialty was 16%.
Objective—A recent report on head injury management from the Royal College of Surgeons of England suggests that surgeons are unsuited to the inpatient care of head injuries (ICHI) and should hand over responsibility entirely to neurosurgeons and accident and emergency (A&E) specialists. This prompted a survey of A&E consultants to establish their opinions on the current and future practice of head injury care.
Methods—Questionnaires were sent to consultant members of the British Association for Accident and Emergency medicine. Of a possible 256 A&E departments from Great Britain and Ireland with over 20 000 annual new attenders 206 (80%) replied.
Results—General surgeons contribute to ICHI for adults in 107 of 206 hospitals (52%) compared with orthopaedic surgeons in 73 of 206 (35%) and A&E consultants in 71 of 206 (34%). There was frequent criticism that surgeons are uninterested in head injury care. Fifty nine units (30%) commented on the lack of neurosurgery beds and difficulties experienced in getting patients accepted. Few hospitals seem to have well integrated rehabilitation or follow up services targeted at head injury. One in six patients with head injury admitted to a general hospital or observation ward remain after 48 hours and one in 20 stay beyond one week. Of the 132 A&E units without responsibility for ICHI 54 (41%) either wish to take on this responsibility or are willing to do so if the necessary resources are first put in place. The perceived net revenue cost required to allow 67 A&E units to take on ICHI is about 12.5 million pounds per year. This does not include the cost of further care after 48 hours, follow up or rehabilitation.
Conclusion—Only one third of A&E units at present have even part of the ICHI role recommended in the RCS report; another third are prepared to accept a new role if training and resources are provided and support is forthcoming from other specialists to take over the care after 48 hours; the remaining third are unwilling to accept responsibility for ICHI.
The aim of this study was to determine how current practice in the UK and Ireland complies with the Clinical Effectiveness Guidelines for the Management of Acoustic Neuromas.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A survey of units and consultants using a standardised questionnaire was carried out.
Fifty-six neurosurgeons treat acoustic neuromas in 33 out of 34 units. In 27 units, one or two surgeons specialise in this area. Caseload per annum per surgeon ranged from 2 to 30, median 15. Forty-one neurosurgeons (75%) work with an ENT surgeon. All surgeons use facial nerve monitoring during surgery. All neurosurgeons informed patients about stereotactic radiosurgery, tending to recommend it for medically unfit patients, and those with small tumours.
Overall, 26 units (79%) and 40 surgeons (73%) met the criteria for good surgical practice. The main reasons for non-compliance were a lack of teamwork with ENT, and insufficient caseload to maintain surgical expertise.
Acoustic neuroma; Vestibular schwannoma; Practice guidelines; Surgery; Radiosurgery
Aims: To determine the current level of diabetes services and to compare the results with previous national surveys.
Methods: A questionnaire was mailed to all paediatricians in the UK identified as providing care for children with diabetes aged under 16 years. Information was sought on staffing, personnel, clinic size, facilities, and patterns of care. Responses were compared with results of two previous national surveys.
Results: Replies were received from 244 consultant paediatricians caring for an estimated 17 192 children. A further 2234 children were identified as being cared for by other consultants who did not contribute to the survey. Of 244 consultants, 78% expressed a special interest in diabetes and 91% saw children in a designated diabetic clinic. In 93% of the clinics there was a specialist nurse (44% were not trained to care for children; 47% had nurse:patient ratio >1:100), 65% a paediatric dietitian, and in 25% some form of specialist psychology or counselling available. Glycated haemoglobin was measured routinely at clinics in 88%, retinopathy screening was performed in 87%, and microalbuminuria measured in 66%. Only 34% consultants used a computer database. There were significant differences between the services provided by paediatricians expressing a special interest in diabetes compared with "non-specialists", the latter describing less frequent clinic attendance of dietitians or psychologists, less usage of glycated haemoglobin measurements, and less screening for vascular complications. Non-specialist clinics met significantly fewer of the recommendations of good practice described by Diabetes UK.
Conclusions: The survey shows improvements in services provided for children with diabetes, but serious deficiencies remain. There is a shortage of diabetes specialist nurses trained to care for children and paediatric dietitians, and a major shortfall in the provision of psychology/counselling services. The services described confirm the need for more consultant paediatricians to receive specialist training and to develop expertise and experience in childhood diabetes.
BACKGROUND: The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has advocated open mesh repair for primary hernia but suggested laparoscopic repair may be considered for recurrent hernias. AIM: To establish current surgical practice by surgeons from the South West of England. METHODS: A postal survey was distributed to 121 consultant surgeons and a response rate of 75% was achieved. RESULTS: The majority (86%) of the surgeons surveyed performed hernia repairs, and most (95%) of these used open mesh repair as standard for primary inguinal hernia. Only 8% used laparoscopic repair routinely for primary hernias. Few consultants (only 28%) were able to quote formally audited hernia recurrence rates. A total of 90% of respondents still employed open mesh repair routinely for recurrent hernias; however, if mesh had been used for the primary repair, this figure fell to 55%. Some 7% of respondents recommended laparoscopic repair for recurrent hernia, but this increased to 17% if the primary repair was done with mesh. All laparoscopic surgeons in the South West employed the totally extraperitoneal approach (TEP). There was a range of opinion on the technical demands of repair of a recurrent hernia previously mended with mesh; the commonest cause of mesh failure was thought to be a medial direct recurrence (insufficient mesh medially). CONCLUSIONS: Current surgical practice for primary hernias in the South West England reflects NICE guidelines although many surgeons continue to manage recurrent hernias by further open repair. In this survey, there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that hernia recurrence can be managed effectively by open repair.
OBJECTIVE--To study the teaching of minor surgery to preregistration house officers in surgery and their confidence in their skills. DESIGN--Questionnaire survey of consultants and vocational trainees. SETTING--Trent, Oxford, and East Anglian Regional Health Authorities. SUBJECTS--All consultant surgeons (n = 148) with preregistration house officers on their firm and all first year vocational trainees in general practice (n = 165). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Time spent teaching minor surgery to preregistration house officers; source of teaching; trainees' confidence in their skills in 15 minor surgical procedures and degree of confidence that consultants expected their junior house officers to achieve. RESULTS-- 137 (93%) consultants and 139 (84%) vocational trainees replied; 131 of the consultants' replies and all the trainees' replies were analysable. Only 14 consultants had a curriculum for teaching junior house officers, and 90 offered less than four hours' teaching a week. Only 11 trainees thought that their firm had had a curriculum, and 102 reported having received under two hours' teaching a week. The consultants indicated that they did most of the teaching, but the trainees reported having received most of their teaching from junior registrars. Seventy nine consultants attempted to teach minor surgery. They expected their junior house officers to acquire greater confidence in their skills in minor surgery than did the other consultants, but overall the confidence expected was low. The trainees were more confident than the consultants expected them to be, but overall confidence was still low. Those who had received more teaching were significantly more confident. CONCLUSIONS--The educational potential of the post of preregistration house officer in surgery seems underexploited, particularly with regard to teaching skills in minor surgery.
BACKGROUND: Specialist outreach clinics in general practice, in which hospital-based specialists hold outpatient clinics in general practitioners' (GPs) surgeries, are one example of a shift in services from secondary to primary care. AIM: To describe specialist outreach clinics held in fundholding general practices in two specialties from the perspective of patients, GPs, and consultants, and to estimate the comparative costs of these outreach clinics and equivalent hospital outpatient clinics. METHOD: Data were collected from single outreach sessions in fundholding practices and single outpatient clinics held by three dermatologists and three orthopaedic surgeons. Patients attending the outreach and outpatient clinics, GPs from practices in which the outreach clinics were held, and the consultants all completed questionnaires. Managers in general practice and hospital finance departments supplied data for the estimation of costs. RESULTS: Initial patient questionnaires were completed by 83 (86%) outreach patients and 81 (75%) outpatients. The specialist outreach clinics sampled provided few opportunities for increased interaction between specialists and GPs. Specialists were concerned about the travelling time resulting from their involvement in outreach clinics. Waiting times for first appointments were shorter in some outreach clinics than in outpatient clinics. However, patients were less concerned about the location of their consultation with the specialist than they were about the interpersonal aspects of the consultation. There was some evidence of a difference in casemix between the dermatology patients seen at outreach and those seen at outpatient clinics, which confounded the comparison of total costs associated with the two types of clinic. However, when treatment and overhead costs were excluded, the marginal cost per patient was greater in outreach clinics than in hospital clinics for both specialties studied. CONCLUSION: The study suggests that a cautious approach should be taken to further development of outreach clinics in the two specialties studied because the benefits of outreach clinics to patients, GPs and consultants may be modest, and their higher cost means that they are unlikely to be cost-effective.
Evidence regarding whether or not antibiotic prophylaxis is beneficial in preventing post-operative surgical site infection in adult inguinal hernia repair is conflicting. A recent Cochrane review based on 17 randomised trials did not reach a conclusion on this subject. This study aimed to describe the current practice and determine whether clinical equipoise is prevalent.
Surgeons in training were recruited to administer the Survey of Hernia Antibiotic Prophylaxis usE survey to consultant-level general surgeons in London and the south-east of England on their practices and beliefs regarding antibiotic prophylaxis in adult elective inguinal hernia repair. Local prophylaxis guidelines for the participating hospital sites were also determined.
The study was conducted at 34 different sites and received completed surveys from 229 out of a possible 245 surgeons, a 93 % response rate. Overall, a large majority of hospital guidelines (22/28) and surgeons’ personal beliefs (192/229, 84 %) supported the use of single-dose pre-operative intravenous antibiotic prophylaxis in inguinal hernia repair, although there was considerable variation in the regimens in use. The most widely used regimen was intravenous co-amoxiclav (1.2 g). Less than half of surgeons were adherent to their own hospital antibiotic guidelines for this procedure, although many incorrectly believed that they were following these.
In the south-east of England, there is a strong majority of surgical opinion in favour of the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in this procedure. It is therefore likely to be extremely difficult to conduct further randomised studies in the UK to support or refute the effectiveness of prophylaxis in this commonly performed procedure.
Antibiotic prophylaxis; Inguinal hernia repair; Hernioplasty