Finally in the news this week we look at a study of more than 1 million post-surgical cancer patients and their short term outcomes. According to the study, nearly 5% of them didn’t survive the first month following surgery. This is significant because it’s much higher than earlier studies had shown. The study also showed higher risk of early death related to socio-economic factors as well as advanced cancer stage.

Socio-Economic Factors Figure Into Cancer Survival

IV_Bag_Push_smThe authors of the study found that the greatest risk of death was for male patients who were single, uninsured, members of a minority group, and had less education than the average. This shows that there is a critical access point where some patients get better care and others don’t. This might be because those with less access to care don’t get diagnosed as quickly or fail to follow up for care after the surgery.

Either way, there is a disparity in survival rates based on access to care and this is completely avoidable. For nurses, this means that when giving discharge and follow-up instructions to patients in the hospital for cancer surgery, we should be assessing the patient’s understanding of the instructions, their ability to get to post discharge care resources, and the level of support they can expect when they return home. It may mean that a post-discharge follow-up call is needed for some patients to reiterate discharge instructions and answer questions that have arisen after the patient returns home.

Whatever the nursing intervention your facility decides to implement, something should be done to help keep these at-risk patients from falling through the cracks. Do you have an opinion on this or any other article in the news this week? If so, shoot me an email to and let me know what your comments are. Maybe I can share them on the show in a future episode. Either way, I’ll get back to you when you email me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Nursing From Within with Nurse/Author Elizabeth Scala and Episode 317.



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