The use of telephone updates to reduce the anxiety of parents during brain tumour operations on their children

Summary

Brain tumours are the most common solid tumours in children. The usual first major step in management is an operation for diagnostic and treatment purposes.These operations usually take many hours and families are all too aware of the peri-operative risk of death or serious neurological injury. Feedback from families indicated that the time spent waiting during these operations was the most anxious of their lives.

The team instigated a system of telephone updates directly from the operating room to families during these long cases. Updates are given every one to two hours during the case, either to a parent’s mobile phone or to a hospital cordless telephone which works anywhere within the hospital and is not reliant on a mobile phone signal. A message is relayed directly from the surgeon, via a member of the theatre team to the waiting family. In addition the family can be easily located at the end of the case.

Challenge

Brain tumours are the most common solid tumours in children and the leading cause of childhood cancer deaths. There is usually a need for a high-risk surgical procedure to confirm the diagnosis and where possible remove as much of the presumed tumour as possible. These cases would generally take many hours of both anaesthetic and operative time.  Lack of feedback on progress causes heightened levels of stress in families, particularly when the operation extends beyond the predicted duration.

There was no formal mechanism for updating families on the progress of these operations.  Occasionally some families would ask staff for an update, but not all felt empowered to. Families were often hard to locate after the operation.

Objectives

The team wished to instigate a formal mechanism for updating families on the progress of their child’s operation.  This was with the hope that it would help to reduce unnecessary stress and anxiety during a very difficult time.

Better communication would also allow the team to locate the family easily at the end of the case to directly discuss the outcome of the operation.

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QiC Oncology Commended 2014
Judges’ Special Award
The use of telephone updates to reduce the anxiety of parents during brain tumour operations on their children
by Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Contacts

Ian Kamaly-Asl

Job title:
Consultant paediatric neurosurgeon
Place of work:
Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital
Email:
ian.kamaly@nhs.net


QiC Oncology 2016 partner:
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Supported by: