In 2013 our hospital introduced an in-hours, consultant-led, outpatient acute surgical clinic (ASC) for emergency general surgical patients. In 2014 this clinic was equipped with a dedicated ultrasonography service. This prospective cohort study evaluated this service before and after the introduction of ultrasonography facilities.METHODS
Data were recorded prospectively for all patients attending the clinic during 2013 and 2014. The primary outcome was patient destination (whether there was follow-up/admission) after clinic attendance.RESULTS
The ASC reviewed patients with a wide age range and array of general surgical complaints. In 2013, 186 patients attended the ASC. After the introduction of the ultrasonography service in 2014, 304 patients attended. In 2014, there was a reduction in the proportion of patients admitted to hospital from the clinic (18.3% vs 8.9%, p=0.002). However, the proportion of patients discharged after ASC review remained comparable with 2013 (30.1% in 2013 vs 38.8% in 2014, p=0.051). The proportion of patients undergoing computed tomography (CT) scans also fell (14.0% vs 4.9%, p<0.001).CONCLUSIONS
The ASC assessed a wide array of general surgical complaints. Only a small proportion required hospital admission. The introduction of an ultrasonography service was associated with a further reduction in admission rates and computed tomography.