An estimated 1 in every 182 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Providing them safe care has become more complex as testing and treatment have become more sophisticated. What should patients know about the challenges inherent in quickly determining the correct diagnosis? How can they differentiate between disease symptoms and side effects from their treatment? These are just a few of the questions addressed in the September issue of PATIENT SAFETY.
In recognition of World Cancer Research Day on September 24, PATIENT SAFETY spoke with medical oncologist Dr. Joe Jacobson, the former chief quality officer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He explains that when it comes to getting a timely and correct diagnosis, there may be dozens of steps required.
Highly sophisticated genetic testing gives medical experts the ability to identify cancer subtypes, which he explains “may have profound consequences on prognosis and treatment options.” He notes that patients need an oncologist who understands how to distill so much information.
Once treatment begins, the patient should share symptoms sooner rather than later via patient portals, if possible. “All cancer clinicians spend a substantial part of their day trying to distinguish between the symptoms of the disease and the symptoms due to complications of treatment. It requires a trained ear and a trained eye and vigilance.
“Studies have shown that patients who report their symptoms electronically to centers that are equipped to manage them in real time fare better,” he adds.
Other topics in this issue of PATIENT SAFETY include:
- The hidden risk of wheelchair use – One of the most common medical devices found in every healthcare facility, wheelchairs are underappreciated as a potential source of injury to patients. Research by Patient Safety Authority’s Molly Quesenberry uncovers the risks of improper wheelchair use and offers strategies for healthcare facilities and staff.
- Medication safety Q&A – Is there a difference between generic and brand names? How often should you review your medication list with your provider? A medication safety fellow and emergency room nurse, Michelle Bell of the Patient Safety Authority, and medication safety officer Sharon Camperchioli of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia answer patient medication questions.
PATIENT SAFETY is the peer-reviewed journal of the Patient Safety Authority. A scientific publication, PATIENT SAFETY humanizes patient harm with stories, opinion pieces, and magazine-quality design. It has a readership of more than 45,000 people in 164 countries.
Established under the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act of 2002, the PSA, an independent state agency, collects and analyzes patient safety data to improve safety outcomes and help prevent patient harm. http://patientsafety.pa.gov/