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Radiotherapy clinical trials are at the forefront of modern-day prostate cancer patient management. Patients are reviewed during treatment by clinical oncologists or competent on-treatment review radiographers to minimise treatment toxicities. Clinical Research Radiographers (CRRs) routinely monitor and gather research data from patients participating in clinical trials.
The aim of this article is to evaluate the effectiveness of the CRR undertaking the on-treatment review of clinical trial patients.
An experienced CRR within the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network was supervised by a clinical oncologist to undertake the role of the on-treatment review of patients receiving radiotherapy for prostate cancer. The CRR explored published literature and compiled this written evaluation as part of their advanced practice learning.
The supervising clinical oncologist verified, following the planned period of supervised practice and academic study, that the CRR was competent to fulfil the role. Evidence of the beneficial synergistic impact of co-joining the roles was experienced at first hand during the undertaking of supervised practice.
Co-joining the roles and responsibilities of the CRR and the on-treatment review radiographer enhanced the quality of care offered to the patients participating in clinical trials.
The joint Canadian Infectious Diseases Society and Canadian Thoracic Society guidelines for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) recommend 48–72 hour telephone follow-up of patients discharged from the emergency department (ED). The guidelines provide no evidence supporting this practice, and neither the clinical utility nor the effectiveness of such recommendations has been assessed. Our objective was to assess the utility of a 48–72 hour telephone follow-up protocol for patients discharged from the ED with CAP.
This was a retrospective chart audit covering a 2-year period (Jan. 3, 1999 to Jan. 3, 2001) after the introduction of a clinical practice guideline (CPG) that included routine 48–72 hour telephone follow-up of patients discharged from the ED with CAP. Eligible patients were identified in the ED database, rates of referral for telephone follow-up were recorded, and 30-day outcomes (death and readmission) for patients referred versus not referred were compared.
During the study period, 867 patients were identified as being eligible for the study. The mean age was 55.7 years (range 16–98 yr), and mean pneumonia severity index (PSI) was 68.9 (range 6–187). Despite the CPG, only 148 patients (17.1%) were referred for telephone follow-up. Age, demographics, comorbidity, clinical status and pneumonia severity were similar for referred and non-referred patients. Thirty-day death (2.5%) and readmission rates (3%) were strongly related to PSI score, but did not differ significantly in the 2 comparison groups.
In this setting, physicians were poorly compliant with a routine telephone follow-up protocol. The likelihood of referral for follow-up did not correlate with pneumonia severity, and follow-up referral did not appear to affect patient outcome. These findings do not support recommendations for routine early follow-up mechanisms beyond those already existing in the community.
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