Background: The spleen defends against infection from encapsulated organisms. Patients who have had splenectomies are at risk for the development of overwhelming pneumococcal infections. Guidelines recommend that pneumococcal vaccine be given to all patients who have splenectomies.
Methods: This retrospective study was performed to evaluate compliance with the guidelines in patients from a large multispecialty group practice who had splenectomies between 1988 and 1991. Ninety-five patients were identified, and their clinic and hospital records were reviewed.
Results: Overall, 73.7% of patients who had splenectomies received the pneumococcal vaccine. No significant differences were found in the vaccination rates over time or among the surgeons.
Conclusions: Improvement is needed in ensuring that patients who have splenectomies receive pneumococcal vaccine.