BACKGROUND: The Dutch National Immunisation Programme includes six tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccinations and reaches a high rate of vaccination coverage. In the Netherlands, several guidelines related to tetanus post-exposure prophylaxis (T-PEP) are in place. In 2003, the Dutch Health Council (HC) reviewed the use of T-PEP. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether the HC recommendations have been implemented.
METHODS: We asked 178 Dutch General Practitioner (GP) offices and 60 Emergency Departments (EDs) to participate in a cross-sectional questionnaire study and requested that participating facilities send in the T-PEP guidelines adopted by their practice. The differences, based on categories mentioned in the HC recommendations, between GPs and EDs and the type of T-PEP guidelines adopted were assessed.
RESULTS: The response rates for the GPs and EDs were 38% (n=67) and 70% (n=42), respectively. 98% percent (n=107) of the participants reported having T-PEP guidelines. Of the guidelines described in the survey responses, 28% (n=23; EDs 41%, GPs 21%) were consistent with the HC-recommendations, 36% (n=29; EDs 7%, GPs 52%) adhered to the guidelines of the College of GPs (CGP), which restricts the use of T-PEP to tetanus prone wounds but for these wounds is in line with the recommendations of the HC. The remaining 36% had adopted other guidelines, most of which can lead to over-prescription of T-PEP. Information on T-PEP was lacking in patients with higher risk vaccination histories.
CONCLUSION: Almost all participants have adopted T-PEP guidelines. Strict adherence to the HC recommendations is low. More than half of GPs have adopted the more restrictive CGP-guideline, which limits T-PEP to tetanus prone wounds.