Background Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the USA. Despite a recent rise in CRC screening there remains an increasing demand for colonoscopy, yet a limited supply of gastroenterologists who can meet this need.
Objective To determine if a mid-career general internist (GIN) could be trained to perform high-quality colonoscopes via an intensive training programme.
Design A GIN trained 2–3 days/week, 4–5 hours/day, for 7 months with an experienced gastroenterologist. Their independent performance was then compared with that of a gastroenterology attending (GA), with and without a gastroenterology fellow (GF).
Main measures The primary outcome was to compare caecal intubation rates, adenoma detection rates (ADRs), interval CRC rates and complications between the three groups.
Key results 989 patients were initially included in the study, and 818 were included in the final analysis. Caecal intubation rates were 95%, 94% and 93% for the GIN, GA+GF and GA, respectively (p=0.31). The overall polyp detection rates were 68%, 39% and 44% among the GIN, GA+GF and GA, respectively (p<0.0001). The ADRs were 56%, 33% and 34% for the GIN, GA+GF and GA, respectively (p<0.0001). Three complications occurred, all within the GA group. No interval cancers were diagnosed within a 5-year surveillance period, across all three groups.
Conclusions The GIN attained high success rates in all quality measures. Training mid-career GINs to perform high-quality screening colonoscopes, through a standardised curriculum, may be a reasonable approach to address the growing demand for colonoscopists.
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Contributors Study concept/design, acquisition of the data, review and editing of the manuscript: CSJ (Loma Linda Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Division of Gastroenterology). Study concept/design and critical review of the manuscript: RMS (Loma Linda VA Medical Center, Division of Gastroenterology). Interpretation of data and drafting of the manuscript: NKS-G (Loma Linda University Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine). Data analysis and interpretation of data: DJ (Loma Linda University School of Public Health).
Competing interests CSJ is a speaker for Medivators.
Ethics approval Institutional Review Board of the Loma Linda Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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