Sep 3, 2013

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Are Nurse Specialists Helping Rheumatiod Arthritis Patients Better than Doctors?

A new study has revealed that clinics managed by rheumatology clinical nurse specialists can provide the same quality care and treatment as doctors do to many people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, but at a more affordable cost.

A chronic inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, if not treated, can lead to severe disability or even the patient’s death. Through better knowledge of the disease (for the past 10 years), however, as well as early diagnosis, use of more effective drugs and thorough treatment, the disease has been managed more effectively.

Though the study, which was conducted by the University of Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, was UK based, it shows one clear fact that can greatly benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis around the globe – that with proper treatment, even from nurse specialists, their condition can improve much.

The study involved rheumatologists, nurse specialists and 180 people with rheumatoid arthritis. Half the number of patients, those assigned under the care of the nurses specifically, was required fewer x-rays, less changes in medication and reduced steroid injections. Surprisingly, the result showed that these patients had greater improvement in physical function, pain control, disease activity and contentment with their care, that their counterpart. For these nurse-cared patients, it also meant reduced costs in healthcare, consultation, hospital admissions, further medical treatments and purchase of over-the-counter medications.

Probably also due to the more person-centered care provided by the nurses that the costly biologic drug treatment of their patients remained the same over a year, while those assigned to rheumatologists, actually doubled.

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