ST. LOUIS - Having a child sick with cancer can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. There are so many doctors, nurses, medications and office visits it’s easy for parents to lose track of what education they have received through the course of their child’s treatment, especially after a hospitalization.
In an effort to address these concerns, the Cardinals Kids Cancer Center at Mercy Children’s Hospital is involved in a “Home Medication Education” pilot project to help improve communications giving parents more information to feel empowered about their child’s condition – one of only six sites chosen by the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology to participate.
It’s important for parents to not only understand their child’s condition, but the complexities of medications needed at home such as storage, handling, preparation, administration and disposal; simultaneous treatment and supportive care medications; possibly drug/drug and drug/food interactions; and the plan for missed doses.
The initiative is a quality improvement program to increase home medication education compliance for all hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant patients discharged from the hospital.
“The common challenges for home medication have been fragmented education – too many people giving information which is sometimes conflicting – as well as a lack of clear, family-friendly materials,” said Dr. Heather Bechtel, pediatric oncologist with Cardinals Kids Cancer Center. “Not only will improved communication help our patients and their parents feel more empowered, the Children’s Oncology Group has directly linked medication adherence to an increased chance of leukemia survival.”
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.