Patient Education that Improves Surgical Outcomes: Are Nurses Delivering?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010: 9:10 AM

Kathleen C. Heneghan, RN, MSN
Ajit Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC
Division of Education, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, IL

Learning Objective 1: Identify the national trends and guidelines directing reform of patient education in surgery.

Learning Objective 2: Determine the system changes needed to support the entire surgical team with effective patient education that enhances patient safety.

Background: Quality patient education has resulted in improved surgical outcomes, yet there has been minimal progress toward supporting the entire surgical team with standardized evidence based patient education.

Purpose: Determine the current practice and methods used to educate surgical patients for procedures and home care by perioperative nurses.

Methods: Nurses were recruited by electronic newsletter to participate in a triangulation study developed by the American College of Surgeons (ACS)on current practice for surgical patient education.

Results: 820 nurses participated.  42% has some print material to guide pre-operative/ informed consent education, with 15% having material that met current informed consent guidelines.  There was limited use of video (3%), CD-Rom (3%) and computer assisted instruction (4%).  Print material rarely had images (12%) and 57% indicated no testing for readability.  77% had no material for patients to visualize home care skills. Over 98% indicated it would be helpful or very helpful for the ACS to develop quality standardized materials.  Qualitative results supported he need for quality standardized materials and the need to address system issues (constraints of time, money and poor patterns of communication between professionals).

Conclusion: Patient education that meets current guidelines is rarely provided with two-thirds of all patients discharged without any education on the skills needed to continue their recovery post discharge.  Educating patients to actively participate in their care while developing multidisciplinary programs for health care professionals will help build a culture of patient safety and facilitate full integration of patients as members of the surgical team.