Objective: Open-access endoscopy allows physicians who are not gastroenterologists to directly schedule patients for endoscopic procedures without having them first seen in the gastrointestinal clinic. We sought to determine the prevalence of open-access endoscopy in the United States and to examine endoscopists' attitudes toward the practice.
Methods: Questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of 1500 members of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Out of 1460 that apparently reached the endoscopist, 577 (39.5%) were returned and analyzed.
Results: Of the endoscopists who responded, 60.5% said that they offered some form of open-access endoscopy. Open-access endoscopy comprised less than 10% of outpatient endoscopic practice for 48.2% of individuals who reported they offered the service; it comprised over 25% of practice in 19.8%. Of those doing it, the procedures offered on an open-access basis included esophagogastroduodenoscopy 86.0%, colonoscopy 76.5%, flexible sigmoidoscopy 94.3%, ERCP 7.7%, and endoscopic ultrasonography 4.3%. For endoscopists not offering open-access endoscopy, the most important reasons were concern about performing "not indicated" procedures (85.1 %), medical-legal issues (65.8%), and failure to believe in the concept of open-access endoscopy (59.6%). Attitudes toward open access endoscopy were significantly different among endoscopists who did and did not practice it.
Conclusions: Open-access endoscopy, offered by more than 60% of the American endoscopists who responded to our survey, has become an important method of health care delivery in this country.