No one wants to go to the Emergency Room. The fact is, though, thousands upon thousands of people visit the ER every year. Patients come to us for treatment of the flu, broken bones, “tummy aches” and much, much more. We want you to feel safe and confident that you will receive the care you need.
But, what happens when treatment for a patient’s existing medical condition, such as chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant, causes the Emergency Room to be potentially less safe? Chemotherapy patients and bone marrow transplant patients have very low blood counts and are at a higher than normal risk of developing infections. Conditions that bring others into the ER can be life threatening to these patients. Where do these patients go when they have an emergency? The answer: they still come to the Emergency Room at Methodist Hospital. In 2012, Methodist Hospital implemented the VIP (Very Immunocompromised Patient) Program to tend to the unique needs of our high-risk patients.
What is the VIP Program? Simply put, we developed a Protocol that helps ER staff and physicians identify VIP patients allowing them to be seen and treated more quickly. This reduces the time these patients spend in the waiting room and allows rapid administration of antibiotics. The multidisciplinary team that developed and implemented the VIP Program created an identification card for patients called the “VIP Card.” The card includes the name and contact information of the patient’s treating physician so our ER physician can easily update them about the patient’s status. The VIP card is one component in what ultimately became the VIP Kit, which also includes a thermometer and hand sanitizer. VIP patients receive their kit from their physicians and are asked to present their VIP Card at the ER as soon as they arrive. If patients do not have their VIP Card or if they lose their VIP Card, they are instructed to tell ER staff that they are an oncology patient with a fever, which will also alert ER staff to the patients’ sensitive VIP status.
The VIP Program has resulted in success for a number of stakeholders. Physicians, ER nurses, oncologists and transplant physicians have found the program to be highly effective and very successful. Most important, patients and families are very satisfied with the VIP Program because it provides them with a level of assurance about what to do and where they can be connected to appropriate care in case of an emergency. The VIP Program has changed the behavior, culture and thought process behind how we treat our VIP patients. Methodist Hospital’s VIP Program received a 2013 ACCC Innovator Award. Sponsored by GE Healthcare, ACCC’s Innovator Awards recognize and honor exceptional cancer programs that exhibit forward-thinking strategic planning and have developed pioneering, replicable programs.
If you or a loved one has recently undergone chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant, talk to your physician about Methodist Hospital’s VIP Program. For a more detailed look at Methodist Healthcare Cancer Network, a Sarah Cannon Partner, visit www.MethodistCancerServices.com.