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Cancer Care in the Hospital: How Oncologists Collaborate

Navigating the healthcare system can sometimes feel like a maze, especially if you or a loved one is admitted to the hospital and under the care of multiple specialists. If you’re seeing an oncologist while hospitalized, understanding what will happen may bring you peace of mind.

Let’s take a look at what to expect.

Oncologists Working Together: First Steps

Most cancer cases are typically handled as outpatient care, with treatment in a clinic by a team of healthcare providers.  You might be hospitalized because of a new cancer diagnosis, a complication of ongoing treatment or for symptoms that need urgent management.

The medical oncologist you see in the hospital may be different from your outpatient oncologist, but they collaborate and communicate to ensure your continuity of care.  

Communication Is Key

It’s crucial to have clear communication between you, your family and your medical team. When you talk to the hospital oncologist, use the opportunity to ask questions, clarify doubts and understand your treatment plan.  Many times, patients are hospitalized for issues unrelated to their cancer diagnosis, such as infection, pneumonia or gastrointestinal bleeding.Your hospitalization might result in modifications to your cancer treatments, such as delaying a chemotherapy session, continuation of oral therapies or even discontinuing some treatments. Your hospital oncologist will update your regular physician, reporting any changes needed in your cancer care. Your overall prognosis may dramatically change how aggressive or conservative your other treating physicians can be.  

We’re All in This Together

When you’re in the hospital, multiple specialists will work in tandem, discussing your prognosis and treatment options. Your medical oncologist will collaborate with other physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals to ensure holistic care.  Teaching hospitals also have medical trainees, including residents and fellows, who play a vital role in your care under the supervision of senior oncologists. Remember, these are doctors-in-training who bring fresh perspectives and are up to date on the latest medical knowledge.  

Planning for Discharge and Support

The ultimate goal is to stabilize you so you can return to the comfort of your own home. Don’t hesitate to talk to your medical team if you have questions about your post-discharge care, follow-up appointments or any modifications to your treatment plan.  

Hospitalization can be stressful. Many institutions offer counseling during inpatient stays. If you or your family member feels overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.  Nutrition, psychosocial and financial support services are typically available at most institutions. 

Always Advocate for Yourself

As a patient or family member, always advocate for yourself. If something doesn’t feel right or isn’t clear, speak up. The medical team is there to support and guide you through the process.  

A hospital stay involving an inpatient medical oncology consultation can be daunting. However, understanding the intricacies of this specialized care and actively engaging with the medical team can lead to the best outcomes. Remember, the entire healthcare team is there to ensure your health, well-being and comfort.

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