Background. "Telephone tag" for questions about postoperative symptoms and other concerns often engenders dissatisfaction. E-mail use may improve communication between patients and clinicians. This study aimed to describe surgeons' and nurses' use of E-mail with patients and their caregivers after head and neck cancer surgery. Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional national survey of head and neck nurses and surgeons. Results. Ninety-six percent of surgeon and 87% of nurse respondents used E-mail, but only 40% and 25%, respectively, used it with patients. More than 50% of both clinician groups that used E-mail with patients have done so for 2 to 5 years and began this practice at the request of patients. Surgeons not using E-mail with patients were twice as likely as nurses to cite privacy and liability issues, as well as time management and miscommunication concerns. Conclusions. Some clinicians use E-mail with patients, most often by patient request. Medicolegal and clinical ramifications require further study.
- Head and neck surgery
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