Guidance on preventing unnecessary deaths from gastric bleeding has been provided by medical bodies.
Gastric bleeding is a medical emergency that affects around 30,000 people a year in the UK, resulting in death in 10% of cases.
Six bodies have claimed that part of the reason for these deaths is due to uncertainty among doctors about how to manage such incidents. The guidance issued outlines minimum standards patients should expect, including urgent action in investigating the bleed and treating it, as well as calling for services to be equitable.
Dr Kel Palmer of the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), one of the six organisations behind the guidance, said while smaller hospitals may find it difficult to provide a high standard of services around the clock, they should be prepared to transfer the most severe cases to the closest hospitals with the appropriate facilities.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Association of Upper GI Surgeons, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Radiologists and the BSG recommended that the minimum action for a patient with a suspected bleed should be an endoscopy investigation within 24 hours of admission.
They also recommend that treatments such as interventional radiology or specialist surgery should be provided by all hospitals at any time.
"Absolutely delighted. Six years ago we sent one of our residents, with projectile vomiting of coffee grounds, to the nearest hospital. They did not scope him, they said that he had a swallow problem, and diagnosed a swallow problem (without a FEES examination), and decided that he needed a PEG tube insertion. The night before Surgery, he died, on his sixth day in Hospital. In the last six months, we have sent another male resident, vomiting coffee grounds, to the same hospital. He has been discharged twice, with a diagnosis of 'Floppy Bowel', on varying doses of laxatives. No mention of the presenting symptoms. No endoscopic investigations. I was saving for his wreath, but now I have the 'clout' to inform his family and our GP that there are Guidelines to be followed. This resident has a family member who is a medical solicitor" - Gillian Kennedy, Northern Ireland