J Oncol Pract 2019 08 25;15(8):e728-e732. Epub 2019 Jun 25.
1University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
There are no national standards for time between patient arrival and the initiation of scheduled chemotherapy (time to chemotherapy [TTC]). Delays in this process have a negative impact on patient care and the use of health care resources. At the University of Virginia Cancer Center, mean TTC in 2015 was 12.1 hours and mean length of stay (LOS) was 5.45 days at baseline. We formed a multidisciplinary team that participated in ASCO's Quality Training Program. We aimed to improve TTC by 10% over 6 months. We used Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles as quality improvement (QI) models and used XmR charts to evaluate the interventions. The first PDSA cycle involved amending the chemotherapy consent process; mean TTC and LOS improved to 9.3 hours and 4.65 days, respectively. The second PDSA cycle involved shifting pharmacist review of chemotherapy orders to before admission rather than after patient arrival. Mean TTC remained at 9.4 hours (net 22% improvement from baseline) and LOS improved to 4.33 days (net 21% improvement). Our team surpassed the 10% improvement goal for TTC. This QI project faced a few limitations. Our baseline data set was a retrospective cohort review. In addition, oncology patients have a wide range of individual clinical needs that may have an impact on TTC. Delays in TTC have an impact on oncologic care at many medical centers. Our project highlights the need for guidance on this issue. We recommend that other institutions form multidisciplinary teams and also use QI tools to assess delays and implement changes.