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Treating patients with gastrointestinal bleeds

06 Jul 2015

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) published a report on Friday (3 July) on the treatment of patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who suffer a gastrointestinal (GI) bleed.

Commenting on the NCEPOD report into gastrointestinal bleeds, RCS Council Member, Professor Derek Alderson said:

“A gastrointestinal (GI) bleed is a potentially fatal condition which must be treated quickly and it is worrying that some patients are not receiving the appropriate care. An accurate diagnosis, followed by prompt treatment, is vital to an individual’s recovery and this requires the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team including surgeons, medical gastroenterologists and radiologists.

“Hospitals must review the services they offer and should only admit patients with a GI bleed if they have the expertise to perform an endoscopy, interventional radiology and surgery on-site, 24/7. Those hospitals which lack the facilities, and specialist staff to diagnose and treat patients appropriately, must make sure they have agreed formal networks in place with other hospitals nearby so they can admit, or transfer, patients in an emergency.”


A patient who is suspected of having a gastrointestinal (GI) bleed may need to have an endoscopy – where a specialist doctor uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and video camera at one end to look inside the body. The endoscopist can usually find the source of bleeding and then stop it using injections, clips, heat or a combination of these methods. If this is not completely successful, the procedure can be repeated or the patient may then be treated with interventional radiology. Most patients can be treated by these two methods, but if they do not respond to this approach, they may have to undergo surgery to stop the bleeding.

Notes to editors:

A copy of the report can be read here:

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