Indexed on: 19 Apr '02Published on: 19 Apr '02Published in: Surgical Endoscopy
Many studies have shown that rectal bleeding is a good indicator of underlying colorectal pathology, and that ost of the lesions in patients presenting with rectal bleeding lie in the left side of the colon [1, 5, 9, 12, 23, 26]. The recent acceptance of the nurse-practitioner by the National Health Service may allow the use of nurse-endoscopists to develop throughout the United Kingdom. This study aimed to audit a unique nurse-led direct-access nurse-endoscopy service with regard to its efficacy and cost effectiveness, and to monitor patient satisfaction and direct referrals from the primary health sector.A nurse-led open-access flexible sigmoidoscopy (OAFS) service for patients reporting fresh rectal bleeding was established at our center in February 1996. A prospective audit of sigmoidoscopic findings and a retrospective analysis of referral patterns from local general practitioners were conducted. A questionnaire survey of both patient and general practitioner satisfaction also was conducted at the same time.Since February 1996, 706 patients have been referred to our service. Rectal bleeding was by far the most common cause for referral, representing the dominant symptom in 92% of the referrals received. Although 99% of the patients underwent a complete sigmoidoscopic examination, 16% of these examinations were limited because of several factors combined. A cause for bleeding was identified in 91% of the patients, with 24% of them experiencing subsequent significant pathology. Of the patients surveyed, 99% were satisfied with the service provided. The results also show nurse-led OAFS to be a more effective use of financial resources, costing $90 less per patient than general practitioner referrals sent to a consultant for further action.Rectal bleeding is a good indicator of underlying colorectal disease. Most of the significant lesions presenting with this symptom are found in the left side of the colon. A nurse-led OAFS is safe, effective, and acceptable to patients. It also is more cost effective than a consultant-led service.