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Nurses manage many conditions as effectively as GPs
J Advanced Nursing (2013) doi:10.1111/jan.12120

Nurses trained to treat several common acute health problems offer 'comparable' quality care to GPs, according to a Spanish study.

GPs or nurses managed 1,461 adults with burns, injuries, acute diarrhoea, non-specific low back pain, acute mild upper respiratory symptoms or urinary discomfort. After training, nurses followed guidelines forming part of a computerised decision-making support tool. GPs did not use the tool.

Nurses solved 86.3 per cent of cases, including 100 per cent of burns, 94.3 per cent of injuries and 90.7 per cent cases of acute diarrhoea and referred 17.5 per cent of low back pain cases, 16.1 per cent of acute mild upper respiratory symptoms and 15.6 per cent of urinary discomfort cases to GPs.

The mean duration of a nurse consultation was six minutes, versus three minutes for GPs. Nurses prescribed drugs in 65.1 per cent of cases compared to 84.8 per cent for GPs and suggested sick leave in 15.7 per cent and 18.7 per cent of cases respectively. Neither difference was statistically significant.

There was no significant difference in symptom resolution or satisfaction: two weeks after consultation, 86.8 per cent of nurse-managed patients said their health problem was solved, compared to 84.7 per cent treated by GPs; 93.1 per cent and 91.4 per cent respectively reported their ailment improved.

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