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Background: The production of clinical guidelines is increasing and will continue to do so with the introduction of clinical governance. In 1997, the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) and the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPS) published joint guidelines on the management of open tibial fractures. It is not known whether these guidelines reached their target audience, or indeed influenced clinical practice. Methods: We determined the effectiveness of these guidelines by sending a postal questionnaire survey to 172 orthopaedic surgeons. Results: Only 57% of consultants were aware of the guidelines, 70% of registrars and 25% of staff grades. Less than 29% of orthopaedic consultants would choose to consult the plastic surgical team pre-operatively in the management of an open tibial fracture and only 43% would seek plastic surgical involvement at all. The primary aim of increasing multidisciplinary communication has not been achieved. Conclusions: The awareness of, and adherence to, these guidelines is sub-optimal. This clearly has implications for both the future management of open tibial fractures and the further production of guidelines.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Publication Date





413 - 416