Background: Forearm plaster casts are commonly used in orthopaedic practice for the treatment of fractures of the wrist and carpal bones. A common question put by patients seeks to clarify suitability to drive a motor vehicle. DVLA guidelines do not specifically comment about temporary immobilisation in a cast.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 248 adult patients who had recently been treated in Colles’ or scaphoid-type casts to determine the driving habits of the patients and their attitudes to the legality and safety of driving with a cast.
Results: Of those who responded, 87% considered it unsafe to drive a car with a plaster cast. 79% thought it should be illegal. Only 9% of patients reported driving while immobilised, and these tended to be young men who did not inform any authority. Previous literature is confusing and there appears to be little consensus among orthopaedic surgeons about letting these patients drive. Clarification is reported from the Medical Advisory Group at the DVLA and the Head of Road Policing Business Area for the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Conclusion: It is recommended that all medical professionals advise their patients that they should not drive while immobilised in an upper limb plaster cast.
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