BACKGROUND: In the current climate of increasing awareness, patients are demanding more knowledge about forthcoming operations. The patient information accounts for a considerable part of the physician's daily clinical routine. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the information is understood by the patient after solely verbal elucidation. To optimise information delivery, different auxiliary materials are used.
METHODS: In a prospective study, 52 consecutive stationary patients, scheduled for an elective lumbar disc operation were asked to use a web-based audiovisual patient information system. A combination of pictures, text, tone and video about the planned surgical intervention is installed on a tablet personal computer presented the day before surgery. All patients were asked to complete a questionnaire.
RESULTS: Eighty-four percent of all participants found that the audiovisual patient information system lead to a better understanding of the forthcoming operation. Eighty-two percent found that the information system was a very helpful preparation before the pre-surgical interview with the surgeon. Ninety percent of all participants considered it meaningful to provide this kind of preoperative education also to patients planned to undergo other surgical interventions. Eighty-four percent were altogether "very content" with the audiovisual patient information system and 86% would recommend the system to others.
CONCLUSIONS: This new approach of patient information had a positive impact on patient education as is evident from high satisfaction scores. Because patient satisfaction with the informed consent process and understanding of the presented information improved substantially, the audiovisual patient information system clearly benefits both surgeons and patients.