Appendicitis remains the most common intra-abdominal surgical emergency, yet many patients receive postoperative antibiotics and intra-abdominal drains against recommended guidelines. This study assesses the impact of an educational poster on the appropriate use of postoperative antibiotics and intra-abdominal drains in appendicectomy patients.

Patients who underwent an appendicectomy between January and April 2019 (‘Poster absent’ group) as well as between November 2019 and February 2020 (‘Poster present’ group) were identified. Data were collected on patient demographics, the presence of complicating features (ie appendiceal abscesses, intraperitoneal pus, gangrene and/or perforation) as well as the use of postoperative antibiotics and intra-abdominal drains in accordance with World Society of Emergency Surgery guidelines.

One hundred and thirty patients were included in the ‘Poster absent’ (73 patients) and ‘Poster present’ (57 patients) groups. After introducing the educational poster there was a significant reduction in the use of postoperative antibiotics (60.5% to 13.8%; p<0.0001) and an insignificant reduction in intra-abdominal drain use (15.2% to 13.2% p>0.05) that were contraindicated in simple appendicitis. There was a significant improvement in the use of postoperative antibiotics (71.9% to 100%; p=0.0019) and an insignificant increase in intra-abdominal drain use (58.8% to 64.3%; p>0.05) that were indicated in complicated appendicitis. The rates of wound infection (4.10% to 0%; p=0.2556) and ileus/obstruction (5.48% to 1.75%; p=0.3846) also reduced.

This small study demonstrated that a simple and appropriately targeted intervention of an educational poster can significantly improve and reduce variation in the management of appendicectomy patients and may reduce postoperative complications.

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