1 in 5 Hospitalizations in Cancer Patients May Be Avoidable

Gabriel Brooks, MD Gastrointestinal Cancer Center Dana-Farber Cancer Institute MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gabriel Brooks, MD

Gastrointestinal Cancer Center
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Brooks: The background for our study is that hospitalizations in patients with cancer are common, costly, and distressing to patients.  Acute hospital care is the single largest expenditure category in cancer care, accounting for substantially greater costs than even chemotherapy. However, patients generally wish to avoid hospitalization, and they certainly want to avoid complications of treatment that can lead to hospitalization. For these reasons, we sought to identify the extent to which hospitalizations are perceived as potentially avoidable by clinicians who are directly involved in patient care.

We interviewed three physicians for each of 103 patients with cancer who experienced a hospitalization. For 24 patients (23%) two or more of the three physicians agreed that hospitalization had been potentially avoidable.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Brooks: We wanted to get a sense for how often hospitalizations are potentially avoidable.  This study suggests that 1 in 5 hospitalizations in cancer patients may be avoidable, and this finding is consistent with other studies that we and other investigators have published. I hope our study will lead clinicians to examine their outpatient systems of care, especially care for acute problems, to identify areas for improvement that may help keep cancer patients out of the hospital.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Brooks: It will be important for researchers to identify specific clinical approaches that are effective for preventing complications and managing acute symptoms in the outpatient setting. This form of health services and implementation research will allow us to identify approaches for improving ambulatory cancer care in a scalable way that can be exported to any site where cancer care is delivered.

Citation:

Brooks GA, Jacobson JO, Schrag D. Clinician Perspectives on Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations in Patients With Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(1):109-110. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2014.155.

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gabriel Brooks, MD (2015). 1 in 5 Hospitalizations in Cancer Patients May Be Avoidable m