Substitution of general practitioners by nurse practitioners in out-of-hours primary care: a quasi-experimental study
SourceJournal of Advanced Nursing, 72, 8, (2016), pp. 1813-24
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Advanced Nursing
SubjectRadboudumc 16: Vascular damage RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
AIM: To provide insight into the impact of substituting general practitioners with nurse practitioners in out-of-hours services on: (1) the number of patients; and (2) general practitioners' caseload (patient characteristics, urgency levels, types of complaints). BACKGROUND: General practitioners' workload during out-of-hours care is high, and the number of hours they work out-of-hours has increased, which raises concerns about maintaining quality of care. One response to these challenges is shifting care to nurse practitioners. DESIGN: Quasi-experimental study comparing differences between and within out-of-hours teams: experimental, one nurse practitioner and four general practitioners; control, five general practitioners. METHODS: Data of 12,092 patients from one general practitioners cooperative were extracted from medical records between April 2011 and July 2012. RESULTS: The number of patients was similar in the two study arms. In the experimental arm, the nurse practitioner saw on average 16.3% of the patients and each general practitioner on average 20.9% of the patients. General practitioners treated more older patients; higher urgency levels; and digestive, cardiovascular and neurological complaints. Nurse practitioners treated more patients with skin and respiratory complaints. Substitution did not lead to a meaningful increase of general practitioners' caseload. CONCLUSION: The results show that nurse practitioners can make a valuable contribution to patient care during out-of-hours. The patients managed and care provided by them is roughly the same as general practitioners. In areas with a shortage of general practitioners, administrators could consider employing nurses who are competent to independently treat patients with a broad range of complaints to offer timely care to patients with acute problems.
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