Background: Sigmoidoscopy screening, which can dramatically reduce colorectal cancer mortality, is supported increasingly by physicians and payers, and is likely to be performed more frequently in the future. As more physicians and nonphysician medical personnel learn how to perform this procedure, and with attention to quality standards, the overall impact of sigmoidoscopy screening may improve. This review describes elements that characterize high-quality examinations and identifies resources for in-depth information on performing flexible sigmoidoscopy.
Methods: The domains of quality were identified from textbooks, articles, and the professional opinions of gastroenterologists and primary care physicians. Information was obtained from MEDLINE, bibliographies in recent articles, medical professional organizations, equipment manufacturers' representatives, and focus groups of primary care physicians.
Results: Nine domains of quality are identified and discussed: training, logistical start-up, patient interaction, bowel preparation, examination technique, lesion recognition, complications, reporting, and processing (equipment cleaning and disinfection).
Conclusions: Persons learning how to perform and to implement flexible sigmoidoscopy may use this information to help ensure the quality of screening examinations.