Patient satisfaction plays a prominent role in modern orthopaedic care, reimbursement, and quality assessment, even if it runs contrary to the “standard of care.” The literature shows that routine early radiographs after acute fracture care have no impact on clinical decision-making or patient outcomes, but little is known about their effect on patient satisfaction and understanding of their injuries. We hypothesized that eliminating these radiographs would negatively influence patient satisfaction scores with their clinic visit.
One hundred patients were prospectively enrolled after acute fracture fixation. Half the patients obtained radiographs at the 2-week follow-up visit, whereas the other half did not. All patients completed a satisfaction survey about their clinic visit.
No difference was observed between the groups in overall satisfaction with the clinic visit (P
= 0.62) or complications. However, patients with radiographs were more satisfied with the surgeon's explanations of their injury and progression (P
Eliminating routine early postoperative radiographs had no effect on overall patient satisfaction with the clinic visit, but it did affect satisfaction with the surgeon's explanation of their injury. This could save time, money, and radiation exposure without adversely affecting patient outcome or satisfaction, but an equivalent educational tool should be identified for clinic visits.