Development and implementation of an interdisciplinary oncology program in a community hospital

Chung, Clement; Collins, Angela; Cui, Nancy
September 2011
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;9/15/2011, Vol. 68 Issue 18, p1740
Academic Journal
Case Study
Purpose. The development and implementation of an interdisciplinary oncology program in a community hospital are described. Summary. Before the program was established, clinical pharmacists responsible for order entry and verification did not have a defined structure and resource to effectively communicate with medical oncologists and nurses on patient care issues and oncology drug information. The practice model did not meet practice needs, departmental safety, quality, or cost-saving goals. An interdisciplinary team was established to determine where current processes and procedures were needed to decrease errors and improve efficiency associated with chemotherapy services. Three stages of practice development were planned, and an interdisciplinary oncology program involving nursing and pharmacy team members and medical oncologists was established. Standardized order forms, various pharmacy collaborative agreements, protocols, improved oncology nursing and pharmacy processes, and established standards in order writing, dispensing, administration, and monitoring were developed. An oncology pharmacist specialist position was requested, and this pharmacist played an essential role in helping the hospital realize significant cost savings and improve the quality of care provided to patients receiving chemotherapy services. Data were collected for 96 chemotherapy orders before program implementation and for 75 orders after program implementation, and a 45% reduction in total error related to chemotherapy drugs was observed (p < 0.0625). The most common cause of errors was missing information, typically an omitted duration or frequency, dose, route, or premedication (63% of all errors documented). Conclusion. The development and implementation of an interdisciplinary oncology program resulted in decreased medication-error rates, expanded pharmacy services, and cost savings.


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