Public Release: 

Low awareness of DVLA safe driving guidelines among hospital doctors

SAGE

New research published today by JRSM Open concludes that medically disqualified patients may wrongly assume themselves fit to drive on discharge from hospital because of inadequate knowledge among doctors of DVLA guidelines relating to commonly occurring medical conditions. 140 junior doctors and senior house officers at six hospitals across five centres in England took part in the study which established that only 21% of doctors knew how long a patient should stop driving for after a stroke and less than 40% knew how long a person must stop driving for after a first episode of epileptic seizure. Only 15% of doctors knew when a patient can recommence driving after an acute coronary syndrome treated with elective angioplasty.

The presence of an acute or chronic medical condition increases the risk that an individual will be involved in an accident. The researchers highlighted police reports to the DVLA in 2000, which show that causes of road traffic collisions involving collapse at the wheel include epilepsy (38%), blackouts (21%), diabetics taking insulin (19%), heart condition (8%) and stroke (7%). Estimates suggest that approximately 15 in 10,000 accidents are precipitated by loss of consciousness due to an acute medical condition.

Dr Ka Ying Bonnie Ng, one of the research authors, said: "The risk of patients being involved in serious accidents decreases significantly if they are warned in hospital that they may be unfit to drive. This is a serious and widespread problem with a simple and effective solution. Doctors must inform patients about the impact of their medical conditions on their legal status as drivers and encourage them to inform the DVLA." She added that in cases where patients refuse to contact the authorities, confidentiality must be over-ridden if there is significant risk of harm to the public.

"There is a need for increased awareness of driving restrictions for common medical conditions among hospital doctors through focused undergraduate and post-graduate education," said Dr Ng.

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Notes to editors

Knowledge of Driving Vehicle Licensing Agency guidelines among NHS doctors: a multicentre observational study (DOI: 10.1177/2054270415601586) will be published by the JRSM Open at 00:05hrs (UK time) on Friday 9 October 2015.

For further information or a copy of the paper please contact:
Rosalind Dewar
Media Office, Royal Society of Medicine
DL +44 (0) 1580 764713
M +44 (0) 7785 182732
E media@rsm.ac.uk

JRSM Open is an online-only, open access companion publication of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and is published by SAGE. Its editor is Dr Kamran Abbasi.

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology, and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. http://www.sagepublications.com

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