Logistics handling referrals for gastroscopy may be more time consuming than the examination itself. For the patient, "drop in" gastroscopy may reduce uncertainty, inadequate therapy and time off work.
After an 8-9 month run-in period we asked patients, hospital staff and GPs to fill in a questionnaire to evaluate their experience with "drop in" gastroscopy and gastroscopy by appointment, respectively. The diagnostic gain was evaluated.
112 patients had "drop in" gastroscopy and 101 gastroscopy by appointment. The number of "drop in" patients varied between 3 and 12 per day (mean 6.5). Mean time from first GP consultation to gastroscopy was 3.6 weeks in the "drop in" group and 14 weeks in the appointment group. The half-yearly number of outpatient gastroscopies increased from 696 before introducing "drop in" to 1022 after (47% increase) and the proportion of examinations with pathological findings increased from 42% to 58%. Patients and GPs expressed great satisfaction with "drop in". Hospital staff also acclaimed although it caused more unpredictable working days with no additional staff.
"Drop in" gastroscopy was introduced without increase in staff. The observed increase in gastroscopies was paralleled by a similar increase in pathological findings without any apparent disadvantages for other groups of patients. This should legitimise "drop in" outpatient gastroscopies, but it requires meticulous observation of possible unwanted effects when implemented.
Keywords: endoscopy, gastroscopy, outpatient clinic, waiting lists