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Telemedicine for acute plastic surgical trauma and burns

  • Author Footnotes
    b DL Wallace presented a part of the submission at the 3rd Annual International Conference of Telecare and Telehealth in Brisbane, Australia, August 2003.
    ,
    Author Footnotes
    d Present address: 21 Huddesford Drive, Balsall Common, Coventry CV7 7RR, UK
    D.L. Wallace
    Footnotes
    b DL Wallace presented a part of the submission at the 3rd Annual International Conference of Telecare and Telehealth in Brisbane, Australia, August 2003.
    d Present address: 21 Huddesford Drive, Balsall Common, Coventry CV7 7RR, UK
    Affiliations
    Plastic Surgery Department, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ, UK
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  • Author Footnotes
    c SM Jones presented a part of the submission at the British Association of Plastic Surgeons Winter Meeting, December 2001.
    ,
    Author Footnotes
    e Present address: Salisbury District Hospital, Odstock Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 8BJ, UK
    S.M. Jones
    Footnotes
    c SM Jones presented a part of the submission at the British Association of Plastic Surgeons Winter Meeting, December 2001.
    e Present address: Salisbury District Hospital, Odstock Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 8BJ, UK
    Affiliations
    Plastic Surgery Department, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ, UK
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  • C. Milroy
    Affiliations
    Plastic Surgery Department, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ, UK
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  • M.A. Pickford
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 1342 414035; fax: +44 1342 414121.
    Affiliations
    Plastic Surgery Department, Queen Victoria Hospital, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ, UK
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  • Author Footnotes
    b DL Wallace presented a part of the submission at the 3rd Annual International Conference of Telecare and Telehealth in Brisbane, Australia, August 2003.
    c SM Jones presented a part of the submission at the British Association of Plastic Surgeons Winter Meeting, December 2001.
    d Present address: 21 Huddesford Drive, Balsall Common, Coventry CV7 7RR, UK
    e Present address: Salisbury District Hospital, Odstock Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 8BJ, UK
Published:March 13, 2007DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjps.2006.03.045

      Summary

      Visual images can enhance communication over a distance. In the UK, plastic surgery provides services over large distances by a ‘hub and spoke’ model. Telemedicine could help to increase the efficiency of service for plastic surgery patients. Telemedicine, along with the impending Electronic Patient Record system could combine to improve communication, patient triage, record keeping, audit and could lead to a better quality of clinical care. Another benefit could be significant cost savings.
      We report our experience of the introduction of telemedicine to a Regional Plastic Surgery Service. Our first study compared assessments from images and patient examinations, which gave us confidence in the use of images [Jones SM, Milroy C, Pickford MA. Telemedicine in acute plastic surgical trauma and burns. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2004;86:239–42]. We proceeded to a 10-week evaluation of all 973 referrals to our unit. We found that the system was used for a wide variety of injuries and for 42% of the 452 patients where the system was available. Initial resistance was overcome by the ease of use of the system, with both receiving and referring clinicians reporting benefits. The third phase was a 12-week prospective cohort study of 996 patients comparing the referrals with and without the telemedicine system. The system was available for 389 patients, and used for 243 patients (63%). The groups were analysed by a chi squared test and confidence interval calculation. We demonstrated a significant difference in the initial management of patients, with 10% more being booked directly to our Day Surgery Unit. There was a decrease in number of occasions when we were unable to accept a patient due to a lack of capacity. We found no change in the patients being managed with telephone only advice.
      We found that telemedicine is a valuable method of providing useful preliminary information in the referral process for injured patients and often significantly modifies their treatment and/or management plan. This has implications for the use of Information Technology resources and potentially the delivery of healthcare in relation to the management of injured patients.

      Keywords

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