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'Operation story': a new educational video to help Indigenous patients through surgery (2002)


Pieris D


Sharing the True Stories







The following excerpt is reproduced from a Northern Territory government media release (24 May 2002) with kind permission of Kerry Sharp, Royal Darwin Hospital PR/Media Officer.
Health and Community Services Minister Jane Aagaard launched Royal Darwin Hospital's initiative to break down cultural and communication barriers between staff and indigenous patients - an educational video titled Operation story. Operation story tells Aboriginal people what to expect when they are admitted to hospital for an operation. It has been produced in three Aboriginal languages so far - Djambarrpuyngu, Burarra and Aboriginal English, with English subtitles. Several other language versions are planned.
Mrs Aagaard said Operation story would become a crucial and highly valued educational tool for easing the anxiety of Aboriginal patients as they prepared for anaesthesia, surgery and other hospital procedures. "Uncertainty about what happens in hospitals often creates very real fears for people," she said. "The video aims to reduce that fear and uncertainty by taking people waiting for surgery through the whole process, from pre-admission to surgery and recovery. 'It emphasises points relating to consent and rights and the importance of fasting, stopping smoking and taking medications before a scheduled surgical procedure.'
Mrs Aagaard said the video was a direct response to evidence from Royal Darwin Hospital research showing that:

'National research has also shown that Aboriginal people have fewer hospital procedures despite having higher levels of conditions co-existing with whatever it was that brought them in for surgery,' Mrs Aagaard said. 'While the reasons for this are not entirely clear, it is likely that a lack of understanding about elective surgery is a contributing factor.'
Operation story was produced by Dr David Pieris, a former RDH Anaesthetics Registrar who now works as a GP at Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island) in Arnhem Land. The video is the product of close cooperation between the Department of Anaesthesia and the Aboriginal Liaison Service at RDH and the Territory's Aboriginal Interpreter Service. The project team consulted widely with staff and Aboriginal groups to make sure that the video communicated the right information in ways that were culturally appropriate. Production was funded by a grant from the Quality Improvement and Enhancement Project of the Department of Health and Community Services and the video was directed, filmed and edited by Formation Studios.

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Last updated: 9 September 2009
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