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Nurse treatment cuts waiting times for patients with back pain

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Treatment times for patients with back problems are drastically reduced by using the skills of specially trained nurses rather than waiting for a surgeon, a study in Canada has shown.

According to the Journal of Advanced Nursing, 96% of patients said they were happy with the nurse’s assessment.

The pilot study at Toronto Western Hospital in Ontario revealed a nurse practitioner provided exactly the same clinical diagnosis as the hospital’s orthopaedic spine surgeons in all of 177 patients assessed.

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Figures show 74% of the patients were happy to see the nurse rather than wait up to a year to see a surgeon, with less than a quarter of those who preferred to see a surgeon saying that the extra wait was acceptable.

Nurse Angela Sarro said: “Back pain can be very unpleasant and debilitating and 85% of us will experience it at some point in our lives.

“The aim of our study was to see whether a clinic led by a nurse practitioner could speed up the diagnosis and management of patients with certain spinal conditions pre-selected by the surgeons’ offices.”

It was found that the average wait to see the nurse practitioner during the study was 12 weeks, compared with 10 to 52 weeks to be seen by surgeons in a conventional clinic.


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