INTRODUCTION: This observational study was carried out to establish how surgeons performing laparoscopic cholecystectomy currently deal with the issue of spilled gallstones. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A questionnaire was circulated amongst laparoscopic surgeons attending the annual conference of the Association of Laparoscopic Surgery of Great Britain and Ireland in November 2006. RESULTS: Eighty-two surgeons completed the questionnaire. Only half of surgeons inform patients when gallstones are spilled. Less than 30% of surgeons inform general practitioners (GPs) of this complication, when it occurs. Less than a quarter of surgeons include this information in the consent literature provided to patients. CONCLUSIONS: We recommend that trusts review their policy towards spilled stones either by local audit or adopt the guidance given by the UK Healthcare Commission. While some surgeons feel informing patients and GPs may unnecessarily heighten anxiety from an uncommon complication, our review of the literature suggests this position is not tenable in the current medicolegal climate.
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