What is Multidisciplinary Care?
“…an integrated team approach to health care in which medical and allied health care professionals consider all relevant treatment options and develop collaboratively an individual treatment plan for each patient” (National Breast Cancer Centre, 2003).
It aims to ensure that members of the treatment and care team can discuss all relevant aspects of a cancer patient’s physical and psychosocial needs along with other factors impacting upon the patients care. The multidisciplinary care approach fulfils best practice and evidence based practice for all cancer patients.
Why have Multidisciplinary Care?
Multidisciplinary care represents best practice in terms of treatment planning and care for cancer patients.
- A focus on continuity of care
- Development of pathways and protocols for treatment and care
- Development of appropriate referral networks, including appropriate referral pathways to meet psychosocial needs
- Development of multidisciplinary team audit mechanisms
- Consumers / patients who consent to their case being discussed by the multidisciplinary team
Effective Multidisciplinary Care can achieve:
- Improved coordination of services
- Improved treatment planning and thus improved outcomes
- Greater opportunities to participate in clinical trials
- Better detection and management of the psychosocial and emotional needs of people affected by cancer
- Improved sharing of information between multidisciplinary team members pre and post meetings
- Improved team functioning
Multidisciplinary team members – who are they?
Who participates on the team will depend on the type of cancer involved and the services available in particular locations. The range of health care professionals may include:
- Medical Oncologist
- Radiation Oncologist
- Specialist Surgeon
- General Surgeon
- Cancer Care Coordinator
- Breast Cancer Nurse
- Chemotherapy Nurse
- Palliative Care Specialist or Nurse
- Stomal Therapist
- Allied Health professionals (e.g. Radiation Therapist, Nutritionist/Dietician, Social Worker, Psychologist, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist)
- Your General Practitioner
Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) in Tasmania
Tasmania currently has the following multidisciplinary teams in operation details of which are listed in the Cancer Directory of Service:
- Royal Hobart Hospital (Southern region MDT)
- Launceston General Hospital (Northern/North West region MDT)
- Royal Hobart Hospital (Southern region)
- Launceston General Hospital (Northern/North West region)
In addition to these MDTs, a number of tumour specific specialist medical teams operate within and sometimes between hospitals. These teams hold regular collaborative meetings to share expertise in discussing individual patient assessment and treatment plans. Staff from regional hospitals link-in with these specialist oncology team meetings.