Background The DVLA states that it is the patient's responsibility to inform them of conditions that may hinder their driving ability. The GMC outlines the duty of the doctor to ensure that the patient first understands their responsibility and second informs the DVLA of details pertinent to their condition.
Objectives To explore the extent that patients are being advised of their responsibilities when diagnosed or while being treated for conditions that might hinder safe driving.
Design A postal survey distributed to a cohort of 96 consecutive discharges from Haematology/Oncology ward within an acute NHS trust, regardless of their specific diagnosis.
Results Survey return rate of 25%. Of these only 17% indicated that they had been given any advice about driving. Only two individuals (8%) had been specifically advised to inform the DVLA. The majority of the responders decided whether to drive based upon symptoms and general wellbeing which varied from day to day. Interpretation of the survey did not allow for a correlation between driving, symptoms and medication. Despite specifically asking for a list of their medication no respondents supplied one, perhaps due to the questionnaire's design being too onerous for the cohort.
Conclusion This cohort often takes medication that can have an effect on their ability to drive safely. The proportion of patients given advice regarding their driving safety, or advised of their responsibility to contact the DVLA, was found to be low. Consequently, the authors have developed an information leaflet for patients who have been diagnosed or are receiving treatments that might influence their ability to drive safely. This is targeted at patients commenced on strong opiates or other centrally acting sedative medication within both the inpatient and outpatient settings. We anticipate a future survey examining physician understanding of their responsibilities regarding the driving advice given to patients.
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