OBJECTIVE: To assess the knowledge about notifiable infectious diseases by accident and emergency (A&E) senior house officers. METHODS: A telephone questionnaire of senior house officers was carried out over a one week period at the end of their six month attachment in A&E departments in Northern Ireland. RESULTS: 81 (91%) of the senior house officers participated in the study; 23 (29%) realised that the doctor diagnosing the notifiable disease had a statutory duty to notify that disease; nine (11%) were aware there were three statutory lists in the United Kingdom. Knowledge about which infectious diseases require notification varied from 79/81 (98%) for meningococcal disease to 15/91 (19%) for methicillin resistant S aureus. Seventy nine (98%) of the doctors thought that a poster displayed in the A&E department would be helpful. There was no significant difference between duration of qualification and performance on the questionnaire (p = 0.2). CONCLUSIONS: Despite varying experience, junior doctors in A&E do not know which infectious diseases are notifiable by statute. They felt that it would be helpful to have a poster in the A&E department listing the notifiable diseases of that region. To encourage accurate reporting, interregional variation between the statutory lists should be abolished and replaced by one nationally agreed list.
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