Donna Waters is helping to improve patient safety and reduce wait times by working as our first dedicated Colorectal Clinical Nurse, supporting our nurse-led surveillance program.
While intensive surveillance is crucial for patients following diagnosis of colorectal cancer and surgery, it can increase specialist outpatient clinic numbers and waitlists. Donna's role is to manage consultant capacity to see new patients, improving patient safety and reducing wait times for specialist outpatient appointments.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common malignancy affecting Australians and diagnosis has increased since the Queensland Bowel Screening Program started.
Donna’s role provides surveillance of post-colorectal cancer diagnosis and surgical intervention patients, and ensures compliance and adherence with national guidelines around the timing of surveillance procedures and follow up.
In consultation with the medical staff, Donna makes sure that every patient who has a colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment has had the appropriate follow-up. She is also developing the professional and collaborative relationship with the patients’ GPs.
“The role came about from the increase of diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer patienst since the implementation and promotion, as a result of the Queensland Bowel Screening Program there was anincrease in the number of patients requiring follow up surveillance for their condition post-surgery," Donna said.
"Donnas role provides surveillance of post-colorectal cancer diagnosis and surgical intervention patients and ensures compliance and adherence with national guidelines around the timing of surveillance procedures and follow up. In consultation with the medical staff, Donna makes sure that every patient who has a colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment has had the appropriate follow up; I make sure they have their investigations, their bloods, their CT scans, their endoscopies to ensure optimal care.
“Having this role means that people are not going to get lost to follow up”.
“I also am developing, in consultation with the medical staff, a professional and collaborative relationship with the patients GPs.”
Prior to the creation of Donna's role, consultants' clinics included between 30-40 surveillance outpatient appointments per week.
"Surveillance often includes facilitation, processing medical documents and paperwork. By assisting in the consultant arena we give the doctors more time to do what they must do, which is seeing people who have got cancer and need surgery," she said.
Donna in consultation with the medical staff established comprehensive written guidelines for nurse-led surveillance criteria so that the consultants could feel confident in their patient's ongoing surveillance and care.
This service is another fantastic example where clinical outcome can be improved by engaging a broader set of health professionals, such as nurses and allied health, as part of a specialist's model of care.
Since the service started in February, 300 patients have been enrolled in the nurse surveillance program and 45 patients have been discharged.