QIM19-116: Barriers and Trends in Cancer Patients’ referrals to Pain Management in Qatar: A Randomized Cohort Prospective Study

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Background: Studies showed that 40%–50% of patients with cancer pain receive insufficient analgesia due to different factors (Beyeler et al, Support Care Cancer 2008; Salminen et al, Support Cancer Care 2008), beside the challenges to accurately assess pain, which might affect drug selection and pain control (Stewart, Ulster Med J 2014). In NCCCR, the treating primary physicians (PP) may prescribe analgesics to their patients or refer them to the Pain Management Team (PMT), based on evaluation or as requested by patients. This study will address the clinical concerns of PP, which may lead to refer the patients to PMT, moreover the clinical judgement of PMT on the referred cases whether they need to be refereed or not. Objectives: To determine the efficiency of the referral pathway to the pain clinic by PMT. Methods: PMT is going to assess the referred patient to their clinics according to pain assessment methods. Patients will be evaluated whether they have been appropriately referred or not, any unnecessary referral will be documented based on the following;

  • • If the patient was referred by hematologist or oncologist
  • • If the patient required specialized treatment
  • • If the patient required urgent treatment/prescription or advanced pain management techniques
  • • If the patient required further consultation by pain management
  • • If the patient could be managed by PP
Results: 195 patients were newly referred to the pain clinic during the period from March 8, 2018 to August 31, 2018. 12% (23/195) were deemed as unnecessary referrals based on PMT assessment; 43% (10/23) of them were hematology patients, while 57% (13/23) were oncology. The majority was for breast cancer and sickle cell disease patients with 35% for each. According to the PMT assessment, 61% (14/23) patients (95% CI, 40.79%–77.84%) considered unnecessary referrals due to improper basic pain assessment and management by PP, while 30% (7/23) patients (95%CI, 15.60%–50.87%) asked for refill medications. Conclusion: There is 12% unnecessary referrals to PMT, which need further improvement in the referral pathway, via the development of a definite referral criteria to PMT. PP should be encouraged to provide basic pain treatment and to consider multidisciplinary management with appropriate coordination for better improvements in patients’ quality of life.

Corresponding Author: Rehab Abdelwahab, MSc, BSc, RPh