The efficacy of a nurse-led preoperative cataract assessment and postoperative care clinic


Objective: To describe the implementation of a nurse-led preoperative cataract assessment and postoperative care clinic and to assess the safety, efficacy and outcomes.

Design, setting and participants: A prospective study involving 185 public patients (221 eyes) referred to the Department of Ophthalmology at Flinders Medical Centre for cataract surgery. The study was conducted between February 2003 and August 2004.

Interventions: Patients were assessed in the nurse-led preoperative assessment clinic. Those deemed suitable for cataract surgery were also assessed by an ophthalmologist and underwent cataract surgery if appropriate. The nurse managed postoperative care.

Main outcome measures: Concordance between nurse practitioner and ophthalmologist assessments; waiting times for first clinic appointment and surgery; visual acuity and degree of visual disability; patient satisfaction.


Results: 114 patients (61.6%) were assigned to see the ophthalmologist for cataract surgery. Median waiting times fell from 115 days (range, 23-268 days) to 21 days (range, 9-43 days) for initial clinic appointment, and from 44 days (range, 5-148 days) to 29 days (range, 14-154 days) for surgery. All 114 patients were listed for cataract surgery, and surgery had been performed on 121 eyes by the end of the study. After surgery, visual acuity improved by a mean of 0.45 logMAR (logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution) (SD, 0.24; range, 0.08-1.32). All patients had improved visual ability and high levels of satisfaction. Three quality assurance evaluations demonstrated full concordance between nurse and ophthalmologist assessments.

Conclusions: Implementing a nurse-led cataract assessment clinic improved access to care for public patients with cataracts. The safety and efficacy of the program and its excellent visual and patient-centred outcomes commend its adaptation and implementation to other ophthalmology departments.

MJA 2006; 184: 278-281
Accepted for publication 10 January 2006

Bradley J Kirkwood MA, Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner,
Konrad Pesudovs PhD, Research Fellow, and Deputy Director, NHMRC Centre for Clinical Eye Research,
Paul Latimer FRCOphth,Corneal Fellow, and
Douglas J Coster FRANZCO, AO, Professor and Head of Department

NHMRC Centre for Clinical Eye Research, Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia.

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