Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There's no 'I' in team

Many people when faced with an 'icky' (for lack of a better word) medical diagnosis, are sent to a specialist in another practice or medical facility. The problem with that is then there is no team work in the care. The primary care is in one place, specialist in another, surgery is where, chemo where, radiation where? You add it all up and you get patients bouncing from one office to another carrying disks of medical records and getting confusing and/or conflicting information that they need to decipher.

I always thought this was a crazy system which is why all my care is in one hospital. I do know people who are generally treated at that same hospital but at the first sign of cancer, fled to the 'specialized' cancer centers in Boston. They are doing what is comfortable for them at first but then they end up juggling medical advice.

I can't remember what exactly happened at my first diagnosis but I do remember seeing both an endocrinologist and a surgeon and having follow up with both. But that was 30 years ago so I can clearly claim chemo brain.

But at my breast cancer diagnosis, after a positive biopsy with my surgeon, I had a day of doctors - my team of breast surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and social worker - all got to talk to me separately and then they got to talk about me and decide as a team what would be my treatment protocol. And all through my treatment they still talk to each other and read each other's notes.

Now I find out that this team approach results in happier patients. They had to have another study to prove this (but if all these damn medical studies stopped I think there would be lots of unemployed researchers.)

At my breast cancer diagnosis, I was in a fog. My husband was in a fog. We barely knew how to breathe, never mind think and make life changing decisions. This process of a group decision presented to my husband and I was a big comfort. It gave us both the short term - surgery, middle term - chemo, and long term - tamoxifen/AI and radiation. The social worker also gave us some emotional help and one of the best pieces of advice - don't try to figure out the whole process now, take it step by step.

Through that first year, the doctors did talk about me and at appointments, I would hear about a discussion with another of my doctors. Because it was a team effort, I didn't even see a doctor's ego! It was a nice virtual security blanket.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Exactly! A lot of our patients talk about the stress of having to run around a see all of their doctors and ask questions to make sure everybody is on the same page. You shouldn't have to have that stress on top of everything else. We absolutely believe in the team approach!
Laura, CTCA

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