Decreasing Patient Discomfort and Pain During GI Procedures: Q&A With Dr. Ralph McKibbin of Allegheny Regional Endoscopy Center
Patients are often wary and fearful of GI/endoscopic procedures because of the pain and discomfort associated with them. Ralph McKibbin, MD, FACP, medical director of Allegheny Regional Endoscopy Center in Altoona, Pa., shares how his endoscopy center evolved its practice to increase patient comfort during GI/endoscopic procedures, such as colonoscopies.
Q: What type of data is your center collecting?
Dr. Ralph McKibbin: Currently, our endoscopy center is in the process of collecting data [on the levels of pain for] patients who underwent procedures with carbon dioxide to inflate the intestine and patients who underwent procedures [using air to inflate the intestine]. We should be finished with this study in the beginning of next year.
Q: Why did your endoscopy center decide to measure the level of pain and discomfort associated with use of carbon dioxide to inflate the intestine?
RM: There is medical literature and data from group quality programs showing that inflating the intestine with carbon dioxide can result in improved levels of comfort and quicker recoveries following GI/endoscopic procedures. Even though the procedure time is about the same if you use carbon dioxide, data show that there is a marked difference in how quickly the patient can get up after the procedure and move around without feeling pain or discomfort. There's a benefit in looking at other providers' experiences [prior to implementing change] instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. We are doing the study to validate this change in our procedure.
Q: What other added benefits are there in using carbon dioxide during procedures to inflate the intestine?
RM: Since patients generally don't feel as much pain or discomfort and experience quicker recoveries, this helps reduce the number of post-operative evaluations patients need in traditional circumstances. Patients occasionally come in because air can get trapped in the intestine, causing pain. This calls for an evaluation and sometimes an x-ray. However, carbon dioxide escapes 150 times faster than just air. Consequently, there is a less frequent need for post-operative evaluations, and a reduction in disruptions to daily patient flow and overall healthcare costs.
Learn more about Allegheny Regional Endoscopy Center.
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