Background: The quality of colonoscopies performed by primary care physicians (PCPs) is unknown.
Objective: To determine whether PCP colonoscopists achieve colonoscopy quality benchmarks, and patient satisfaction with having their colonoscopy performed by a primary care physician.
Design: Prospective multi-center, multi-physician observational study. Colonoscopic quality data collection occurred via completion of case report forms and pathological confirmation of lesions. Patient satisfaction was captured by a telephone survey.
Setting: Thirteen rural and suburban hospitals in Alberta, Canada.
Measurements: Proportion of successful cecal intubations, average number of adenomas detected per colonoscopy, proportion of patients with at least one adenoma, and serious adverse event rates; patient satisfaction with their wait time and procedure, as well as willingness to have a repeat colonoscopy performed by their primary care endoscopist.
Results: In the two-month study period, 10 study physicians performed 577 colonoscopies. The overall adjusted proportion of successful cecal intubations was 96.5% (95% CI 94.6-97.8), and all physicians achieved the adjusted cecal intubation target of ≥90%. The average number of ademonas detected per colonoscopy was 0.62 (95% CI 0.5-0.74). 46.4% (95% CI 38.5-54.3) of males and 30.2% (95% CI 22.3-38.2) of females ≥50 years of age having their first colonoscopy, had at least one adenoma. Four serious adverse events occurred (three post polypectomy bleeds and one perforation) and 99.3% of patients were willing to have a repeat colonoscopy performed by their primary care colonoscopist.
Limitations: Two-month study length and non-universal participation by Alberta primary care endoscopists.
Conclusions: Primary care physician colonoscopists can achieve quality benchmarks in colonoscopy. Training additional primary care physicians in endoscopy may improve patient access and decrease endoscopic wait times, especially in rural settings.