With cancer care, the saying “it takes a village” is certainly true. Successful treatment involves the contributions of many providers working together. In order to offer patients the best, and most coordinated, care possible, Saratoga Hospital provides regular opportunities for providers to meet
and review cases. For years providers have gathered every other week for the Cancer Conference, and recently an additional separate Breast
Conference was added to the line up.
Cases are typically presented by one or more of the physicians involved in the patient’s care. If there has been imaging, a radiologist then projects the images and reviews the studies with the group. This allows everyone present to see the mammograms, x-rays, CT scans, etc. If there has been a biopsy or surgery, a pathologist projects images of the slides and reviews the results with the group. Personally, I always learn something by reviewing the images and pathology slides with the specialists.
Care is taken to preserve patient privacy. Only the providers actually involved in the care of the patient know the patient’s name. The other providers know the patient only as, for example, “case #3, a 52
year old female”.
After everyone at the conference is familiar with the case history, imaging and pathology, the multi-disciplinary treatment planning discussion begins. The physicians involved in the discussion include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, palliative care physicians, and primary care physicians. Equally important are the contributions from the nurses, social worker, physician assistants, pharmacists, dietician, tumor registrars, and technicians from radiology. (I apologize if I am missing anyone!) The discussion typically includes references to treatment guidelines and relevant research. There is also consideration given to resources that can help support patients and their families through treatment.
These group discussions are incredibly valuable, as each provider brings a unique perspective on treatment options to the table. Patients benefit by having the opinions and expertise of many providers incorporated into their care. I consider myself fortunate to care for patients at a hospital with such a caring and knowledgeable “village”.
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