Here’s an example of quality improvement in cancer care

Cancer caregivers created a series of patient booklets about managing symptoms related to cancer treatment, in direct response to patient feedback about a need for symptom management information.

“It appeared that patients were overwhelmed with the volume and varied types of information they were given,” says Bonnie Chapman, Director of Quality at the Upstate Cancer Center. Now, instead of receiving numerous handouts, patients receive an overview pamphlet during their first visit. At subsequent visits they receive only the booklets that pertain to their symptoms.

Booklets exist for chemotherapy side effects on the brain, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, mouth sores, nausea, neuropathy, nutrition, pain, sexuality and skin care. Another set of booklets is being created for side effects of radiation therapy.

Patients are randomly selected to complete a survey about their experience after visiting Upstate for cancer care. During the second half of 2011, scores pertaining to patient education for symptom management hit an all-time low of about 80 percent. So a multi-disciplinary team was assembled and developed the booklets.

As a result of the booklets and continued efforts by the staff, Chapman says, survey scores on symptom management have increased to above 90 percent.

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