Quality Improvement Reports

Introduction of nurse led DC cardioversion service in day surgery unit: prospective audit

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7471.892 (Published 14 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:892
  1. M P Currie, consultant nurse (mary.currie{at}bromleyhospitals.nhs.uk)1,
  2. S P Karwatowski, consultant cardiologist1,
  3. J Perera, associate specialist anaesthetist2,
  4. E J Langford, consultant cardiologist1
  1. 1 Department of Cardiology, Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust, Princess Royal University Hospital, Orpington, Kent BR6 8ND
  2. 2 Department of Anaesthetics, Day Surgery Unit, Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust
  1. Correspondence to: M P Currie
  • Accepted 27 July 2004


Problem Atrial fibrillation is the most common persistent arrhythmia in adults and carries an increased risk of thromboembolism and stroke. Electrical (DC) cardioversion is an effective treatment, but logistical difficulties in many institutions lead to problems providing a prompt service. This reduces the rate of long term success, delays relief of symptoms, and increases the burden on anticoagulation clinics.

Design Prospective audit of introduction of a collaborative, nurse led DC cardioversion service in a day surgery unit.

Setting Day surgery unit 5 km from an acute hospital in southeast London.

Key measures for improvement Waiting times, success of procedures, and complication rates.

Strategies for change Collaborative working across traditional specialty boundaries; empowerment of patients within the process; using a nurse consultant as a single point of reference to coordinate the service.

Effects of change Sinus rhythm was restored in 131 (92%) of the first 143 patients treated. Three patients needed hospital admission; all were discharged uneventfully within 24 hours. No important complications occurred. Waiting times were reduced from 27 weeks to eight weeks for patients eligible for the service.

Lessons learnt Elective DC cardioversion under general anaesthesia can be safely done by an appropriately trained nurse in a day surgery unit remote from an acute general hospital. This model of care is effective and can reduce waiting times and relieve pressure on acute beds and junior doctors.


  • Contributors MPC designed and ran the new service, wrote the manuscript, and is the guarantor. SPK, JP, and EJL contributed to the design and running of the service and preparation of the manuscript.

  • Funding No external funding.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethical approval Not sought.

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