Dermatological postoperative patient information leaflets: is it time for more uniformity?
Hunt, William T.
McGrath, Emily J.
JournalClinical and experimental dermatology
MetadataShow full item record
INTRODUCTION: Patient information leaflets (PILs) are an important source of information for patients postoperatively. There are currently no nationally agreed standards by dermatologists for postoperative advice following skin surgery. AIM: To assess the common themes and areas of variation in advice given in PILs after skin surgery across all National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in England and Wales. METHODS: All acute trusts in England (n = 159) and local health boards in Wales (n = 7) were requested to provide their postoperative dermatological PILs for general sutured wound care or excision biopsy. Eight preselected parameters were assessed: minimum dressing duration, duration of pressing on a bleeding wound, postoperative analgesia, explanation of infection signs, application of petroleum jelly, scarring, whom to contact if there is a problem, and the recommended postoperative time for abstaining from active exercise. RESULTS: PILs were received from 137 different dermatology departments belonging to 127/166 (76.5%) organisations across England and Wales. Of these, 102 PILs gave a specific duration for dressings: 45/102 (44.1%) advised a minimum of 48 h, but 28/102 (27.5%) recommended leaving dressings in place until suture removal. Regarding duration of pressing on a bleeding wound, 117 PILs gave advice, with the most common recommendation being 15 min (30/117, 25.6%), followed closely by 10 min (26/117, 22.2%). Of the 137 PILs received, 125 gave advice regarding postoperative analgesia, with paracetamol alone being the most common recommendation (24/125, 19.2%). For the remaining parameters, 111/137 (81.0%) PILs described >/= 2 signs of infection, 42/137 (30.7%) recommended the application of petroleum jelly, 65/137 (47.4%) mentioned scarring, 137/137 (100%) highlighted whom to contact if there were postoperative problems and 87/137 (63.5%) PILs gave advice regarding postoperative abstinence from active exercise. CONCLUSIONS: The advice given in dermatology postoperative PILs across England and Wales is highly variable. A nationally agreed template or set of postoperative advice should be considered to improve consistency.