NEW ORLEANS—Development of a MediPort nurse program can help increase satisfaction among patients, according to research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society 37th Annual Congress.

At many outpatient chemotherapy units, patients have their blood drawn peripherally prior to treatment. This subjects patients to two needle sticks – one to draw blood and another to administer chemotherapy. Poor venous access further complicates the problem.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, approximately 160 patients are treated daily, and about 5,216 doses of FOLFOX and FOLFIRI, frontline treatments for colorectal cancer that require an implantable venous access device (MediPort), were administered in 2010. Since the majority of patients had a MediPort device and both drawing blood and administering chemotherapy can be accomplished with this device without unnecessary needle pricks, nursing staff questioned why they were not fully using the device to its potential.

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Led by Ashley Moore, RN, BSN, nursing staff decided to create a new role, the MediPort nurse, to decrease the number of needle sticks, identify problematic ports, decrease chemotherapy chair time, improve workflow, and increase patient satisfaction. An interdisciplinary task force was created to develop the program, determine the workflow, and review the resources required.

Data was then collected to determine the volume of patients with MediPorts receiving chemotherapy treatment, and a new visit type was created in the scheduling system. Nurses were then oriented on the responsibilities and expectations of the role and, along with support staff and patients, were educated on the implementation of the role and changes it would present to current workflow.

From October 2010 to September 2011, monthly MediPort volume nearly tripled. A total of 9,046 patients were accessed by the MediPort RN in 12 months.

Once implemented, the cancer center noted the program’s success and allowed the MediPort nurse role to become part of the daily staffing plan. Initial patient satisfaction surveys revealed 97% of patients were highly satisfied with the program and would recommend the service to other patients. A second patient survey distributed in November 2011 revealed a 95.4% satisfaction rate. The cancer center added a second MediPort nurse to assist 2 days per week in order to accommodate increasing patient volume and decrease wait times.

“The second RN has allowed us to accommodate all patients with MediPorts who need their port accessed for labs, but may not be receiving chemotherapy that day,” the authors stated.

The cancer center continues to collect data measuring patient volume, wait time, satisfaction, and workflow.

“Many chemotherapy units face the challenges of high patient volume, limited treatment space, and long wait times, which affect patient satisfaction with the overall chemotherapy experience. The MediPort Nurse role is an example of how oncology nurses can improve this experience while continuing to advocate for their patients,” the cancer center concluded.