Effects of introduction of an inflammatory bowel disease nurse position on the quality of delivered care

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Background and aimsInflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are chronic gastrointestinal conditions requiring long-term outpatient follow-up, ideally by a dedicated, multidisciplinary team. In this team, the IBD nurse is the key point of access for education, advice, and support. We investigated the effect of the introduction of an IBD nurse on the quality of care delivered.MethodsIn September 2014, an IBD nurse position was instituted in our tertiary referral center. All contacts and outcomes were prospectively recorded over a 12-month period using a logbook kept by the nurse.ResultsBetween September 2014 and August 2015, 1313 patient contacts were recorded (42% men, median age: 38 years, 72% Crohn’s disease, 83% on immunosuppressive therapy). The contacts increased with time: Q1 (September–November 2014): 144, Q2: 322, Q3: 477, and Q4: 370. Most of the contacts were assigned to scheduling of follow-up (316/1420), start of new therapy (173/1420), therapy follow-up (313/1420), and providing disease information (227/1420). In addition, 134 patients contacted the IBD nurse for flare management and a smaller number for administrative support, psychosocial support, and questions about side effects. During the study period, 30 emergency room and 133 unscheduled outpatient visits could be avoided through the intervention of the IBD nurse. A faster access to procedures and other departments could be provided for 136 patients.ConclusionThe role of IBD nurses as the first point of contact and counseling is evident from a high volume of nurse–patient interactions. Avoidance of emergency room and unscheduled clinic visits are associated with these contacts.

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