Introduction: Asplenia causes a deficiency in immunity with a long-term risk of fulminant infection, associated with significant mortality. Patient compliance requires an understanding of risks of infection and its prevention. The impact of patient education has been little studied.
Materials and methods: To ascertain the degree of knowledge held by patients who have undergone splenectomy, a comprehensive survey was designed. This also aimed to determine which group of health professionals was most successful in conveying information to patients. Patients who had undergone total splenectomy were interviewed by telephone, using a standardised list of questions to assess their understanding of the post-operation risks.
Results: Of 40 consecutive patients, 32.5% had a good knowledge of the risks of asplenia and their prevention, 52.5% had a fair knowledge and 15% a poor knowledge. Haematologists were most successful in initially conveying information to patients, and general practitioners also played a critical role in patient education. In this survey, it appears that surgeons were not effective at educating patients.
Conclusion: Patient education postsplenectomy is poor. Measures to prevent infection in the asplenic patient are not being adequately implemented.