Introduction: This study describes the effect of introducing a cardiac sonographer led follow up clinic for patients with stable heart valve disease. The 2 years before and after the instigation of the valve clinic were audited.
Materials and methods: The clinic was conducted in a single centre and undertaken in the cardiology department of a district general hospital. 382 patients, with 397 clinically significant valve lesions, but for whom surgery was not yet indicated but follow up required, were seen in a cardiac sonographer run clinics. These patients no longer attended a medical follow up clinic unless there was clinical or echocardiographic deterioration. Effectiveness was judged by the percentage treated according to current best practice guidelines, the number of echocardiograms performed and the number of hospital out patient visits attended. In addition mortality data for the subjects in the clinic was collected.
Results: The proportion followed up according to best practice guidelines rose from 157 (41%) to 354 (92%) (p<0.01). The total number of echocardiograms performed fell from 807 to 550. Total number of out patient visits fell from 998 to 31. 11 patients died in the two year study period, none from progressive valve disease.
Discussion: This study demonstrates that a protocol driven sonographer led heart valve disease follow up clinic, significantly improved the quality of follow up while bringing about a major reduction in out patients visits, without compromising patient safety.