Impact of a dietitian in general practice: Paediatric food allergy
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AbstractBACKGROUND: Food allergy in infants and young children places a significant burden on primary care. This study evaluated a dietetic-led paediatric food allergy service, which attempts to provide more rapid access to the dietitian and reduce the need for general practitioner (GP) and secondary care appointments.
METHOD(S): Two community dietetic services for children referred with food allergy were compared. The first was dietetic-led care where dietitians train community children's nurses to recognise potential cases of food allergy, undertake basic diagnostic assessment and subsequently refer to the dietitian. The other is a more traditional dietetic community service where patients are referred predominantly by the GP or secondary care.
RESULT(S): In dietetic-led care 86 patients were seen, compared to 96 in dietetic community care. Dietetic-led care received less referrals from the GP; 36% vs 67% (p<0.001), GP appointments for allergy-related conditions prior to dietetic referral were lower; 3 vs 6 visits (p=0.001) and input from secondary care was also lower; 8 vs 25 patients (p=0.002) compared with dietetic community care. Children referred to dietetic-led care were younger; 78% <6 months vs 40% (p<0.001) in dietetic community care.
CONCLUSION(S): Dietetic-led care describes a model that has the potential to reduce GP and secondary care appointments, identify patients more quickly and reduce the time to receive dietetic input, thereby resolving symptoms more quickly and reducing prescribed medications. This model demonstrates the importance of integrated care and multidisciplinary working; offering a solution to reducing GP workload whilst maintaining or improving patient care. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.