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At the heart of general practice since 1960

NICE urges faster RA referrals

By Nigel Praities

GPs should refer all patients with suspected rheumatoid arthritis to a specialist as soon as possible, draft NICE guidelines advise.

The guidance says disease-modifying drugs should be initiated within three months of the onset of persistent symptoms, but said GP may delay this because of difficulties identifying the signs of synovitis or because of a ‘false sense of security' from positive responses to analgesics or NSAIDs.

NICE now encourages GPs to refer all patients with suspected persistent synovitis of undetermined cause, with urgent referral if more than one joint is involved, the small joints of the hands or feet are affected or if there has been a delay since the onset of treatment.

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