Treatment plan

Statement 3.4

After diagnosis, all outpatients with IBD should be able to start a treatment plan within 48 hours for moderate to severe symptoms and within two weeks for mild symptoms.

Why is it important?

Once a diagnosis of IBD has been confirmed, it’s important to put a treatment plan in place as soon as possible. This results in the best chance of getting symptoms under control and improving outcomes and the patient’s quality of life.

Where possible, any delays between diagnosis and the opportunity to discuss and start treatment for someone with IBD should be avoided.

The pros, cons and expectations of different treatment options should be discussed with patients. These should include nutritional therapy, where appropriate.

Patients should be supported to understand the potential treatment options and enabled to participate in shared decision making. They should also receive clear guidance about what to do and who to contact if they experience side effects, continued or worsened symptoms and how and when treatment will be reviewed. This should include the number of the IBD service advice line as well as emergency/out of hours contact details.

Patients should be given appropriate information about their condition and its treatment, including details of:

  • The diagnosis and distribution in their gut or elsewhere
  • Their initial treatment (details of drug regimen, dietary or surgical interventions - with anticipated benefits and possible side-effects)
  • Self-management, including pain and fatigue
  • Monitoring and follow-up needs
  • Likely course of their illness in the future, including associated conditions and potential complications
  • Lifestyle advice implications including smoking, alcohol, exercise, nutrition, education, employment, social activities, sex, contraception, family planning and pregnancy

GPs should be informed of new diagnoses and the treatment plan agreed.

I reacted badly to mesalazine suppositories, but I had no contact to call to ask if I should stop taking them. I could only get through to a receptionist, who said I should probably stop.

Respondent to IBD Standards survey