Appropriately trained practice nurses provide care that is largely comparable to GPs for non-complex cases, according to Spanish researchers.
Their study involved 38 general practices, with 155 nurses and 142 GPs taking part. Nearly 1,500 adult patients requesting same-day appointments were randomised to see either a nurse trained to respond to low complexity problems or a GP.
The researchers measured how well symptoms resolved and how satisfied patients were two weeks after their consultation.
They found nurses successfully solved 86.3% of the cases. The problem that nurses solved with greatest ease was burns, followed by injuries and acute diarrhoea.
However, nurses were less successful at resolving low back pain, acute mild upper respiratory symptoms, and urinary discomfort.
“This lower resolution could be explained by the fact that these problems require more complex physical examinations that are not usual in a nurse’s daily work,” the researchers said.
In addition, the study found patients who saw nurses were equally satisfied with their visit as those who saw doctors.
The findings, which no doubt confirms what many nurses working in primary care already know, were published online in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
The authors said the findings could help with “generating confidence in the care provided by nurses”.