Study Finds Shorter Work Shifts Aid in Detection of Colon Polyps

NEW ORLEANS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A shorter daily shift schedule for endoscopists, the physicians who perform colonoscopies, avoids a decrease in the polyp detection rate as the day progresses, research from Mayo Clinic indicates. The findings, which have implications for endoscopist scheduling, were presented by Mayo Clinic investigators today at Digestive Disease Week 2010, (http://www.ddw.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=679) the annual meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association.

VIDEO ALERT: Additional audio and video resources, including excerpts from an interview with Dr. Gregory Munson describing the research, are available on the Mayo Clinic News Blog (http://newsblog.mayoclinic.org/2010/04/28/shorter-work-shifts-could-aid-in-detection-of-colon-polyps/). These materials also are subject to embargo, but may be accessed in advance by journalists for incorporation into stories. The password for this post is Shift3.

Data from 3,846 colonoscopies performed at Mayo Clinic during 2008 were examined in the study. After excluding factors known to influence polyp detection, such as poor bowel preparation and involvement of fellows in training in the procedures, researchers compared polyp detection rates by daily shifts.

“Some people develop colon cancer even after having colonoscopies,” says Gregory Munson, M.D., M.P.H., a gastroenterology fellow at Mayo Clinic and study co-author. “Polyp miss rates are partially to blame, so we want to discover how to make the quality of the colonoscopy exam better.

“It’s known already that longer colon exam times during endoscope withdrawal increase polyp detection rates. Our data show that each additional minute spent on withdrawal predicts a 4 percent increase in the polyp detection rate. This has led some health care facilities to require a minimum withdrawal time. We were curious whether shorter shifts positively influence polyp detection rates.”

Mayo Clinic schedules outpatient colonoscopies during three 3 hour shifts each weekday (a morning shift, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.; a midday shift, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and an afternoon shift, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.). Researchers found the morning shift polyp detection rate was 39.1 percent, midday was 44.6 percent and afternoon was 38.9 percent. The average time a colon was examined during scope withdrawal remained constant throughout the day at just over eight minutes, with only a five-second variation between the shifts with the longest and shortest average times, Dr. Munson says.

According to Dawn Francis, M.D., M.H.S., (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/13311140.html) a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic and lead researcher, these findings differ from similar studies done at other health care facilities that employ traditional half-day shifts. The decrease in polyp detection rates later in the day in those studies is attributed to endoscopist fatigue.

“Our endoscopists usually work only one three-hour shift per day rather than a half or full day of endoscopy,” Dr. Francis says. “With shorter shifts throughout the day, we don’t see the drop in polyp detection rate later in the day that has previously been reported. Other health care facilities might also want to consider a model that breaks up the day into three-hour shifts.”

The researchers say it is unclear why the polyp detection rate is highest during the midday shift at Mayo.

“It’s hard to tell from the data,” Dr. Munson says. “Despite our attempt to control for patient and endoscopist variables, it could be that patients who show up at midday have more polyps or that endoscopists are better at detecting polyps during midday. We need to do more analysis to pinpoint the factors that make a difference.”

Support for this study was provided in part by the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA) (http://ctsa.mayo.edu/). Mayo Clinic is one of 46 medical research institutions working together as a national consortium to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through Clinical and Translational Science Awards, (http://www.ctsaweb.org/) shares a common vision to accelerate the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, and to engage communities in clinical and translational science. It is also fulfilling the critical need to train the next generation of clinical researchers. The CTSA initiative is led by the National Center for Research Resources (http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/) at the National Institutes of Health (http://www.nih.gov/).

Mayo Clinic's Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (http://www.mayoclinic.org/gi-rst/) has been ranked No. 1 in the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of Top Hospitals since the rankings began 20 years ago.

To request an appointment at Mayo Clinic, please call 480-422-1490 for the Arizona campus, 904-494-6484 for the Florida campus, or 507-216-4573 for the Minnesota campus.

About Mayo Clinic
For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. These patients tell us they leave Mayo Clinic with peace of mind knowing they received care from the world's leading experts. Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. At Mayo Clinic, a team of specialists is assembled to take the time to listen, understand and care for patients' health issues and concerns. These teams draw from more than 3,700 physicians and scientists and 50,100 allied staff that work at Mayo Clinic’s campuses in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona; and community-based providers in more than 70 locations in southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. These locations treat more than half a million people each year. To best serve patients, Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people. To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news. For information about research and education, visit www.mayo.edu. MayoClinic.com (www.mayoclinic.com) is available as a resource for your general health information.



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