It is difficult for a emergency medicine staff to follow-up facial lacerations. This is important to allow closure of the feedback loop for the trainee and also to allow the patient to gain access to revision surgery.
With the increasing evidence for the use of telemedicine in other specialties, we decided to examine the role of electronic follow up of facial lacerations.
Fifty patients who were sutured using the same technique who had internet access, a digital camera or a mobile phone with a camera, were asked to send a photograph of the laceration at 6 and 12 months. At each reminder phone call patients were asked to grade the result on a simple likert scale.
No patient returned a photograph. All patients had stated they would return a photo. All patients were happy or very happy with the result. No patients wanted referral for scar revision by 13 months. The male: female ratio was 1.94:1. The mean age was 27.2. Most injuries were caused by assault. Twenty four patients said they had access to a computer/camera to send in the image.
There is no evidence to support the use of emailed or text messaged photographs, despite telephone reminders, for the follow up of facial lacerations sutured in the emergency department. It would appear that despite technological advances there is no simple way for closing the feed back loop in this situation.
Conflict of interest: None declared.