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Sharon M. Weinstein, Dorothy Romanus, Eva M. Lepisto, Cielito Reyes-Gibby, Charles Cleeland, Rex Greene, Cameron Muir and Joyce Niland

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an organization of 19 of the world's leading cancer centers, developed and communicated a cancer pain treatment guideline. NCCN seeks to implement guidelines through performance measurement using a NCCN Oncology Outcomes Database. This is a preliminary report from the NCCN Cancer Pain Management Database Project. The primary objective of this NCCN Cancer Pain Management Database Project study is to evaluate the frequency, methods, and extent of documentation of cancer pain assessment and managementat NCCN institutions. A pain data dictionary and related data collection forms were first developed. The records of 209 breast cancer patients with bone metastases were then studied. The frequency of pain mentions, type of pain assessment tool used, pain characteristics, type of clinician documenting pain, location in the medical record, and pain treatment characteristics were noted. The majority of clinical encounters included pain mentions, although considerable variability was found in pain documentation between providers and between inpatient and outpatient settings. Nurses more frequently recorded pain, usually as a numeric pain intensity score. Pain specialists were more likely to record a complete description of pain. A significant minority of patients experienced moderate to severe pain. In a small subgroup of patients with moderate to severe pain, pain treatment was not recorded. The undertreatment of cancer pain has been a focus of investigation and review for the past two decades. Quality improvement efforts to raise the standard of pain management have been underway. The results of this study highlight the need for standardization of pain documentation in comprehensive cancer centers as a prerequisite for the proper assessment of cancer pain and the improvement of clinical outcomes of pain management.

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Dorothy Romanus, Martin R. Weiser, John M. Skibber, Anna Ter Veer, Joyce C. Niland, John L. Wilson, Ashwani Rajput, Yu-Ning Wong, Al B. Benson III, Stephen Shibata and Deborah Schrag

Background

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Outcomes Database was created to assess concordance to evidence- and consensus-based guidelines and to measure adherence to quality measures on an ongoing basis. The Colorectal Cancer Database began in 2005 as a collaboration among 8 NCCN centers.

Methods

Newly diagnosed colon and rectal cancer patients presenting to 1 of 8 NCCN centers between September 1, 2005, and May 21, 2008, were eligible for analysis of concordance with NCCN treatment guidelines for colorectal cancer and with a set of quality metrics jointly developed by ASCO and NCCN in 2007. Adherence rates were determined for each metric. Center-specific rates were benchmarked against mean concordance rates for all participating centers.

Results

A total of 3443 patients were evaluable. Mean concordance rates with NCCN colorectal cancer guidelines and ASCO/NCCN quality measures were generally high (≥ 90%). However, relatively low mean concordance rates were noted for adjuvant chemotherapy treatment recommendations within 9 months of diagnosis of stage II to III rectal cancer (81%), and neoadjuvant chemoradiation in clinical T4 rectal primaries (83%). These low rates of concordance seemed to be consistent across centers.

Conclusions

Adherence to guidelines and quality measures is generally high at institutions participating in the NCCN colorectal cancer database. Lack of documentation, patient refusal, delayed treatment initiation, and lack of consensus about whether treatment was essential were the primary reasons for nonconcordance. Measurement of concordance and the reasons for nonconcordance enable participating centers to understand and improve their care delivery systems.