Patients often experience anxiety following chemotherapy and may be unlikely to report treatment-related symptoms that emerge. Without proper management, these treatment-related toxicities could result in delays in care. A poster presented during the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress assessed one institution’s implementation of standardized, nurse-led calls to follow up with patients after receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
Over a four-week pilot study, seven nurses called patients within three days of treatment. A template was created within the medical records to assess whether the call addressed common side effects, reinforced which urgent symptoms patients should report, reinforced follow-up visit and nurse contact information, and was helpful.
A total of 17 patients spoke with a nurse, including five immunotherapy and 12 chemotherapy patients. In all the conversations, common symptoms were addressed. Symptoms that called for immediate follow-up were reviewed by the nurses. The average length of the calls was 8.82 minutes. All of the patients said the calls were helpful, and three patients had follow-up questions after the call.
Five nurses completed a post-intervention questionnaire. All respondents agreed that they were comfortable managing symptoms, the assessment questions were appropriate, the completed note was easy to read, the call was well received by patients, and the template was easy to use and useful. However, some nurses did not always feel they had time to make the phone calls given their workload.
“Patients were very appreciative of the phone call. Nurses felt satisfaction regarding use of the template, as well as providing this extra level of care to patients. Phone calls can be completed very efficiently with the use of the template, and nurses were able to effectively manage symptoms that would have been unknown to providers,” said Dena C. Bourque, MSN, RN, OCN, who presented the poster.