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What is Quality Cancer Care

Posted 3/6/2017

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  Quality care is one of the phrases that is often tossed around without much clarification or even understanding. Of course everyone wants it; it would be comparable to being opposed to motherhood or apple pie to be critical of this standard. But what does it mean?

  It turns out that no one is quite sure of a single definition. For an oncologist, it likely means treating someone to the highest medical standards. For a patient, it may mean staying well. For a hospital CEO, it likely has more to do with cost. The fact of this confusion is part of the reason that ASCO is holding a whole symposium about it. 

  If you are interested, this is a nice summary of the various viewpoints:


Quality Care”: What Does It Mean?

· Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO


Today marks the beginning of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium. The word “quality” is tossed around a lot when it comes to medical care, but what does it mean?

To a person with cancer, “quality cancer care” may mean a chance to be cured of their disease and to be treated with respect and compassion. To a hospital administrator, it may mean that staff follows the highest standards of professionalism. They are up to date on the latest information, provide treatment that is based on guidelines accepted by peers, and there is ample communication between members of the cancer team with different specialties. To oncologists, it may mean putting the patient front and center and working collaboratively with colleagues to achieve the best possible outcome.

Many years ago, I took care of a college student with leukemia. She was deeply loved by her family and had a brilliant future ahead of her. As a mother myself, I imagined her mom was feeling intolerable levels of anguish and stress. So I asked if she would like to have a cup of tea and talk. She looked me straight in the eye, thanked me, and reassured me that she would be fine if and when her daughter was cured. “I appreciate your offer,” she said, “but I’m comfortable knowing that you are doing everything possible to save my daughter’s life.” This young woman’s story has a happy ending, and I share it here only to emphasize the fact that “quality” has many dimensions and interpretations. For this mother, quality meant knowing that everybody was doing their best to help her child.

Read more: http://www.cancer.net/blog/2017-03/quality-care-what-does-it-mean

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