Cancer care in the age of COVID-19: The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance weighs in

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to pose a strain on the U.S. healthcare system, which could complicate care provided to patients with severe conditions, such as cancer.

Experts from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a member institution of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, shared insights on providing comprehensive cancer care during the pandemic. They published an article in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

The authors emphasized the importance of clear communication between administrators, caregivers, staff and patients during the pandemic. They recommend organizations form "incident command structures" to streamline the flow of information among hospital staff and coordinate care delivery to cancer patients.

They suggest offering patients information via handouts, signs, web-based communication and a dedicated phone line.

Organizations may face several challenges, including staff shortages and limited resources. But they can take certain steps to mitigate these challenges, the authors wrote, including rescheduling elective surgeries, limiting the number of team members who enter patient rooms and shifting some procedures from the inpatient to the outpatient setting.

The authors also suggest having upfront palliative care and end-of-life conversations with cancer patients who may have contracted COVID-19.

"Our overarching goal is to keep our cancer patients and staff safe while continuing to provide compassionate, high quality care under circumstances we've never had to face before," said F. Marc Stewart, MD, medical director of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and co-lead author of the article. "We are working around the clock to develop new guidelines and policies to address situations that we couldn't have imagined several weeks ago."

More articles on patient safety and outcomes:
47 practices for safer care from AHRQ
How Northwell improved resuscitation outcomes in the ED
Top 10 patient safety concerns of 2020 from ECRI Institute

 

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