Tata starts helpline for post-chemo side effect management
Mumbai: Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Parel, has started a ‘Chemotherapy Care Unit’ (CCU), a 24x7 helpline service, to assist patients on prevention and management of chemotherapy-related side effects
Mumbai: Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Parel, has started a ‘Chemotherapy Care Unit’ (CCU), a 24x7 helpline service, to assist patients on prevention and management of chemotherapy-related side effects.
The CCU is being rolled out by the hospital along with NGO Karo and manned by trained nurses.
Dr Vikas Ostwal, professor of medical oncology, said the idea of the CCU is to provide support to the patient on prevention and management of chemotherapy-related side effects over the telephone. “Most of our patients come from far-off places. Once they are home and have side effects, they can reach out to us. We have observed that many times, patients assume that chemotherapy will have side effects and ignore them, translating into major side effects too. The CCU bridges the communication gap once the patients leave the hospital,” he said.
Earlier, a pilot project was conducted with one of the medical oncology units, which had received 2,000 calls. After analysing the response, the TMH is extending the CCU services to other segments like paediatric oncology and blood cancer.
“We launched the CCU for solid tumours among adults in August 2022 for which we trained 10 nurses for management of chemotherapy-related side effects. The nurses operate in three shifts. The model received a positive response and our patients were happy. About 20% of patients calling the helpline had severe side effects that were managed due to early intervention. The rest were minors, who were also handled by simple interventions,” Dr Kumar Prabhash, professor, head division of solid tumour medical oncology, said.
Explaining the functioning of CCU works, Dr Shripad Banavali, director of academics, said their chemotherapy patients are given CCU helpline numbers where they can call in case they experience any distress following chemotherapy administration.
“The nurses assess the distress/complaints for its severity. If the complaint is mild/minor, they advise on appropriate lifestyle, dietary modification or medication that is already prescribed for the patient. If the complaints are severe, the patients are advised to get admitted to a nearby hospital. The nurses coordinate with the hospital and make sure the complaints are resolved,” he said.
While similar services exist in Western countries, it will be first-of-its-kind in India. “Evidence has shown that when nurses are involved in patient-related activities, the outcome is better. We have prepared an algorithm which will be referred to by our nurses to provide standardised care to the patients,” Anita D’souza, nursing head, said.