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NICE issues care quality standard on constipation

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A quality standard for constipation in children and young people has been published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The new standard is aimed at helping all healthcare professionals, including school nurses, to improve the treatment of idiopathic constipation, prevent its recurrence and help reduce emergency admissions.

“There were over 13,000 consultant appointments for children and young people with constipation in the last year alone”

Gillian Leng

The sets out six concise statements designed to help reduce emergency admissions and progression of symptoms, as well as prevent recurrence.

For example, children and young people with constipation should receive a full assessment − including detailed history-taking and a physical examination − to ensure all other serious causes of constipation are ruled out before a diagnosis of idiopathic constipation is made.

It also recommends treatment with laxatives that can be easily administered at home and do not need invasive hospital treatment. First-line treatment should be oral macrogols and those who do not respond within three months should be referred to a specialist.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “There were over 13,000 consultant appointments for children and young people with constipation in the last year alone, and the number with the condition could be even higher because families may be too embarrassed to seek advice.”

Gillian Leng

She added: “More than a third of children and young people will end up with chronic, long-term symptoms, with many having to be referred on to secondary care.

“This new standard calls for thorough and regular assessment to ensure that children and young people with idiopathic constipation have the best level of care.”


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