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Research Article

Open access gastroscopy: too much to swallow?

BMJ 1990; 300 doi: (Published 10 February 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;300:374
  1. D D Kerrigan,
  2. S R Brown,
  3. G H Hutchinson
  1. University Surgical Unit, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, South Yorkshire.


    OBJECTIVES--To ascertain the proportion of endoscopic examinations with normal findings in patients referred for gastroscopy through hospital medical staff or directly by their general practitioner and to assess the likely effect of targeting endoscopy in older patients. DESIGN--Retrospective audit of the gastroscopy practice of one consultant from 1986 to 1988 from information recorded on a standard form completed at the time of the examination, which contained details of patients, their endoscopic findings, and mode of referral (open access or clinic). SETTING--One district general hospital. PATIENTS--1545 Consecutive patients from primary catchment area attending for their first gastroscopy; 454 were referred through the outpatient clinic or by hospital colleagues (clinic group) and 1091 were accepted for endoscopy solely on their general practitioner's clinical diagnosis (open access group). RESULTS--Similar numbers (about 40%) of examinations with normal findings were performed in each group, although in patients aged over 40 the proportion with normal findings was significantly higher in the clinic group (p less than 0.03). Endoscopic evidence of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulceration, and gastroduodenal inflammation was equally common in each group; upper gastrointestinal malignancy, however, was significantly more common in patients referred through hospital doctors (5%, 23/454 v 2%, 22/1091 respectively; p less than 0.005) (although many of these patients had already been extensively investigated). IMPLICATIONS--Open access gastroscopy does not increase the number of unnecessary examinations and should become more widely available. Targeting this service to patients aged over 40 would reduce the number of requests but increase the diagnostic yield.