Medical Minute: How A Oncology Nurse Is Helping Cancer Patients From Being Readmitted To Hospitals

The American Cancer Society predicts that 2024 will be the first year in U.S. history that new cancer diagnoses will cross the 2 million mark.

Saturday, May 25th 2024, 7:11 pm

By: News On 6


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Studies show that older adults are at a high risk for being readmitted to the hospital for side effects after receiving treatment.

The American Cancer Society predicts that 2024 will be the first year in U.S. history that new cancer diagnoses will cross the 2 million mark.

More than half will be people over the age of 65.

Treatment can be tough for older men and women and once discharged from the hospital, there's a lot of risk in their at-home care and not knowing what to do can land you back in the hospital with serious implications.

However, a silver-haired avatar may help older patients learn the right way to recover at home.

"When somebody is typically diagnosed with cancer, it's a very overwhelming experience," said Professor Victoria Loerzel, an oncology nurse.

In her 20 years as an oncology nurse, Professor Loerzel has seen patient after patient readmitted to the hospital for not following directions when they return home.

"The big ones that people get readmitted for are pain, of course, symptoms like nausea and vomiting," Prof. Loerzel said.

But, she's trying to change that, with a game. In the game, patients follow a silver-haired avatar home after being discharged.

The choices they make in the game are the same choices they will make for themselves at home.

Compared to younger patients, those 65 and older are at a high risk for severe side effects. Chemo, nausea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and toxicity.

"We're trying to save them time, we're trying to save them money. We're trying to save the hospital system money, and we're also trying to get them to think differently about managing their care at home," Prof. Loerzel said.

The game takes just 15 minutes to play, but Prof. Loerzel said it can save older cancer patients days and weeks lost to illness or being readmitted in to the hospital to manage their symptoms.

She received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a larger, multi-center study to follow 500 patients for six months after their treatment.

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