Published: Jan. 13, 2012
Updated: Jan. 13, 2012
A new role for nurses in the handoff process
Multimodality concurrent therapy has changed the way cancer is treated, but can present challenges in the coordination of care.
If communication fails between the interdisciplinary team members, essential components of care can easily fall through the cracks and prevent the patient from receiving optimal care and result in a lack of timely intervention.
“The current handoff process of faxing patient information between nurses and providers resulted in a negative trend of patient care incidents,” says Carrie Byrns, clinical operations director at Duke Raleigh Cancer Center. “After an in-depth review it became evident that a new handoff process was needed.”
An interdisciplinary team including Cancer Center staff from medicine oncology and radiation oncology was established to determine where communication was failing. It became evident that a new process was necessary to improve patient flow and efficiency within the Cancer Center.
After identifying specific issues related to communication, follow-up appointments, and parameters/criteria for treatment interventions, the team recommended that a new role of concurrent therapy nurse be established. Additionally, a concurrent therapy form was created for use in the handoff process.
The concurrent therapy nurse serves as the primary person responsible for coordination of the plan of care for all concurrent therapy patients.
The coordination is further enhanced through interactions at the bimonthly interdisciplinary rounds as well as the morning huddle where information is communicated to all nursing staff and providers.
Data collected to date has demonstrated a decrease in patient care incidents and improved communication and handoff processes for concurrent therapy patients.
“The addition of a concurrent therapy nurse to the care team has improved the handoff process, thus improving patient safety and ensuring proper oversight of the concurrent therapy regimens,” says Byrns.