Screening: Side-effects from endoscopic procedures

VITAL SIGNS

Instead of relying on doctors’ reports about adverse events, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston used electronic medical records to track emergency visits and hospital admissions that occurred within two weeks of a colonoscopy or upper-gastrointestinal endoscopy and that appeared to be related to the procedures.

The study included 6,383 outpatient upper endoscopies and 11,632 outpatient colonoscopies, resulting in 134 trips to the emergency room and 76 hospitalisations — all told, about 1 percent of all the procedures. (Physicians had reported only 31 complications.)
The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, did not capture patients who sought help at different hospitals.

The most common complication was abdominal pain, which accounted for nearly half of the adverse events.“A lot of low-level complications were flying under the radar,” said Dr Daniel Leffler, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard.

“A lot of physicians wouldn’t consider abdominal pain a complication, but at the same time, the person went to the emergency room and missed work, so it was a significant burden to the patient and to the health care system.”

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