The longer it’s been since their last colonoscopy, the more likely patients are to forget important details about their procedure, a new study finds.
In the study, 200 people were asked to recall the date of their last colonoscopy and the findings. Their answers were compared to their health records. The patients’ last colonoscopies were either two months, one year, two years or four years prior to the study.
The percentage of patients who remembered the date of their last colonoscopy to within one month was 94 percent after two months, 42 percent after one year, 30 percent after two years and 28 percent after four years, according to the study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in Chicago.
The number of patients who knew whether precancerous growths called polyps were found was about 65 percent, 32 percent, 36 percent and 38 percent, respectively. The number of patients who knew the number of polyps found during their procedure was about 39 percent, 10 percent, 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
“Patients’ personal recollections of endoscopy results can be misleading,” said study author Dr. Amer Alame, a colorectal surgeon at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.
In an ACS news release, he said it’s important for doctors to repeat important information to patients after a colonoscopy, including what was done, the results and recommendations for follow-up care. One helpful approach is to provide patients with a document to take home and keep in their files.
Another suggestion is to send the results directly to the patient’s primary care doctor.
Typically, doctors who perform colonoscopies “won’t send [results] until the primary care doctor requests it, but I know of centers that are being proactive about it and already doing this,” Alame said.
Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about colonoscopies.