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Endoscopy nurses 'equal' doctors

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Nurses are just as effective as doctors at performing diagnostic endoscopies and delivering outpatient clinic follow-up after the procedure, say UK researchers.

Over one year, researchers from the universities of Swansea, Leeds and York studied 67 doctors and 30 nurses who carried out upper- and lower-gastrointestinal endoscopy at 23 UK hospitals. Over 1,000 patients completed satisfaction questionnaires one day, one month and one year after the procedure.

Writing online in the BMJ, the researchers said there was ‘little significant difference’ between doctors and nurses in the clinical outcomes of the procedures.

They added that nurses were more thorough in their examination of the stomach and oesophagus, carried out more biopsies than doctors, and patients were significantly more satisfied with nurses one day after the procedure.

In a separate study, published online in BMC Gastroenterology, Southampton University researchers studied the follow-up of 175 dyspeptic patients who had undergone gastroscopy. Half received follow–up from a gastro-intestinal nurse practitioner, while the rest were followed up by their GP.

Patients in the nurse-led group had a full medical history taken, were given counselling and lifestyle advice and leaflets on reflux and dyspepsia, and had an individualised treatment plan agreed with them.

After six months, the researchers found that 30% of the patients who were followed up by their GP did not recall having had their gastroscopy findings explained. Additionally, only 12.5 % received dyspepsia information leaflets and just over half received lifestyle advice.

In contrast, all those who attended the nurse-led clinic said their gastroscopy findings were explained and all received advice and leaflets which enabled them to make positive lifestyle changes.

Christine Norton, professor of gastrointestinal nursing at King’s College London, said there should be more nurse-led services in this area.

‘Nurses are just as good, if not better, than doctors at performing these types of technical procedures,’ she said. ‘Nurses tend to be more approachable and better at explaining things.’

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