The impact of national guidelines on the waiting list for colonoscopy: a quantitative clinical audit

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ObjectiveTo assess the compliance of the surveillance colonoscopy waiting list with ACPGBI/BSG guidelines for colonoscopy follow-up and to measure the impact of adjusting referrals to be inline with the guidelines.Design and SettingThis is a quantitative five-stage clinical audit cycle involving a large patient cohort from the Kent and Medway Cancer Network, which includes seven hospitals across four NHS Hospital Trusts and an estimated population of 1.8 million.Participants3020 patients were waiting for a surveillance colonoscopy. Their notes were reviewed and the indications for colonoscopy were compared with the ACPGBI/BSG 2002 guidelines.InterventionsThose patients whose referral to the surveillance colonoscopy waiting list was not found to be compliant were adjusted to be inline with the guidelines.Main outcome measuresThe impact of adjusting the surveillance colonoscopy waiting list on the diagnostic colonoscopy service was assessed by measuring the average waiting times for a colonoscopy before and after the intervention.ResultsAround 22% (n = 664) of surveillance colonoscopy referrals were inline with the guidelines, 51% (n = 1540) could be cancelled from the list and 27% (n = 816) could be given a new date. Implementing these recommendations reduced the average wait for a diagnostic colonoscopy from 76.8 to 56.0 days (P = 0.0022).ConclusionFollowing guidelines for surveillance colonoscopy can reduce waiting times for diagnostic colonoscopy. This allows a faster patient journey for diagnostic colonoscopy and a uniform plan for duration and frequency of surveillance colonoscopy. However, this action promoted serious debate on the social, moral and ethical issues.

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