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Gut. 1998 Nov;43(5):711-4.

A UK training programme for nurse practitioner flexible sigmoidoscopy and a prospective evaluation of the practice of the first UK trained nurse flexible sigmoidoscopist.

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  • 1University of Hull Academic Surgical Unit, Castle Hill Hospital, Hull, UK.



Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a technical skill that has been successfully performed by suitably trained colorectal nurse practitioners in the USA. However, no recognised training course exists for nurse practitioners in the UK.


To design and evaluate a training programme for nurse endoscopists.


A multidisciplinary committee of nurses and clinicians developed a structured programme of study and practice. This involved a staged process of observations, withdrawals, and ultimately, full procedures. Once training had been completed the nurse practitioner was permitted to practice independently. Patients with colorectal symptoms referred for flexible sigmoidoscopy were examined for the final stages of training and independent practice. A prospective evaluation of the training and practice of the first trained nurse flexible sigmoidoscopist was performed. Barium enema, video, clinical follow up, and histology were used to validate the results of the flexible sigmoidoscopies.


The training programme required that 35 observations, 35 withdrawals, and 35 supervised full procedures were performed prior to the development of independent practice. Subsequent to the completion of this programme 215 patients have been examined independently by the nurse practitioner. Ninety three per cent of the examinations were judged successful and pathology was identified in 51%. The nurse endoscopist successfully identified all "significant" pathology whereas barium enema failed to identify pathology in 12.5%. There were no complications.


With suitable training nurse endoscopists are able to perform flexible sigmoidoscopy safely and effectively.

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