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J Eval Clin Pract. 2008 Dec;14(6):1026-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2007.00937.x.

Monitoring indicators of health care quality by means of a hospital register of tumours.

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1
Research Unit, Hospital Costa del Sol, Marbella, Malálaga, Spain. mredondo@hcs.es

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Hospital registers of tumours provide, on a continuous basis, information on differences in patterns of neoplasias and the results of the treatment strategies employed.

OBJECTIVE:

In view of the scant publications on measures of health care quality in hospital tumour registers, the aim of our paper is to present the outcome of a study to monitor the results related to health care quality in oncology.

METHODS:

Data are presented for cases recorded at the Hospital Costa del Sol over a period of 8 years. The sources of information are fundamentally the patient's medical record and the database of the Pathology Department.

RESULTS:

A high proportion of patients (mean 50%, range 45-68%) were admitted to the hospital by the Emergency Department; there was a notably long delay between the appearance of the first symptoms and the occasion of the first hospital visit (median 65 days; range 60-75 days). Particularly striking was the corresponding delay for breast cancer patients, in most cases superior to 3 months. As was the case for the percentage of admissions by the Emergency Department, most of the indicators evaluated in this study present a significant improvement compared with the initial years of the Hospital Register of Tumours. Thus, non anatomic-pathological diagnoses represented around 7% (range 3-13%), while 43% of patients (range 28-57%) were given adjuvant treatment in the form of radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In 40% of cases (range 20-50%), the tumour stage was included in the clinical record by the doctor who was treating the patient (in the remaining cases, these data were recorded by the Tumour Registry); the date of appearance of the first symptoms was included in the medical record in 65% of cases (range 54-80%). According to the stage classification, the following 5-year survival rates were recorded: (I) 98%, (II) 94%, (III) 69% and (IV) 39% for breast cancer; (I) 93%, (II) 83%, (III) 68% and (IV) 12% for cancer of the colon; and (I) 100%, (II) 94%, (III) 79% and (IV) 53% for prostate cancer.

CONCLUSION:

The high percentage of patients admitted by the Emergency Department and the long delay between the appearance of the first symptoms reflect the deficient attention paid to this problem by patients and by primary health care services. Our results suggest that the Hospital Register of Tumours could constitute an excellent tool for monitoring the quality of health care systems for oncological patients.

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