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Br J Nurs. 2006 Apr 13-26;15(7):394-9.

Diagnosis of early arthritis: outcomes of a nurse-led clinic.

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Rheumatology Department, Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, Kent.


Recent data suggest that early treatment of inflammatory arthritis can improve patient outcomes. While rheumatologists recognized this need for early evaluation and treatment, the current load on the rheumatology service nationwide may limit the capacity for timely evaluation. The authors developed a protocol to be applied through a specialized early arthritis clinic that is able to discriminate between different categories of early arthritis, to shortening the time taken to reach the correct diagnosis and provide the appropriate management. A total of 108 patients have been reviewed in the early arthritis clinic over 12 months. It took 3 weeks for the patients to be fully assessed in the rheumatology clinic instead of 16 weeks. Completing the clinic proforma helped the assessor to cover all causes of arthritis/arthralgia. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy was initiated within a few weeks (2 to 5 weeks) once diagnosis was confirmed, instead of 8 to 10 months previously. This early arthritis clinic model helped to shorten the referral lag time (duration between symptoms onset and first rheumatologist assessment) as well as lag time to DMARD therapy (duration between symptom onset and the institution of DMARD therapy).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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