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Guidelines aim to reduce colonoscopies

Guidelines aim to reduce colonoscopies - Featured Image

Reducing the number of unnecessary colonoscopies undertaken in Australia is the aim of a nationally agreed standard on care for patients.

The standard, launched in Brisbane by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, argues many people are unnecessarily having colonoscopies.

Almost one million Australians have a colonoscopy each year and commission clinical director Anne Duggan says the new standard will offer guidance to patients, clinicians and health services.

“The clinical care standard supports clinician certification and recertification as requirements for colonoscopy services, and will bring increased rigour to the procedure and shine a light on when and how these procedures are done,” Professor Duggan said.

Susan Morris has undergone annual colonoscopies since 2012, when she was diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition that puts her at increased risk of colon and endometrial cancers.

She says the standard will ensure those undertaking colonoscopies have a greater understanding of what to expect.

“In my experience, and speaking to many others like me who need to have regular colonoscopies, it is really important to know you are receiving high-quality care at all stages,” she said.

“It is vital people understand what best practice means, and what standard of care they can expect. They also need to ensure they have followed the instructions for the bowel preparation. This makes abnormalities so much easier to detect.”

A colonoscopy examines the colon to diagnose and treat a range of bowel diseases including bowel cancer, the second most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in Australia.

Over 4000 people in Australia are expected to die from bowel cancer in 2018.

Colorectal surgeon Iain Skinner co-chaired the commission’s working group that developed the standard and says the guidelines are much needed.

“This is an advanced procedure and we don’t want it being performed unnecessarily,” Dr Skinner said.

“Fewer unnecessary colonoscopies will free up access to more timely colonoscopies for those who are at moderate or high risk, such as those with a history of polyps or a significant family history of bowel cancer, or those who return a positive bowel screening test.”

To complement the release of the Clinical Care Standard, Bowel Cancer Australia launched My Colonoscopy Experience, a nationwide questionnaire inviting Australians to provide their feedback about the procedure. The intention is to ensure that patient experience serves as the cornerstone of colonoscopy care. Patients can provide feedback at whatmattersmost.global