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Remote triaging of urgent suspected head and neck cancer referrals: our experience during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic


HumanInsight Remote triaging of urgent suspected head and neck cancer referrals: our experience during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2021 Oct 18. doi: 10.1007/s00405-021-07135-3. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, otolaryngology departments across the United Kingdom have adopted non-face-to-face clinics with consultations being carried out remotely, via telephone or video calls. By reducing footfall on hospital sites, the aim of this strategy was to limit direct contact and curb the spread of infection. This report outlines our experience of conducting a telephone triage clinic in the assessment of urgent suspected head and neck cancer referrals during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: New patients who were referred on the urgent suspected head and neck cancer pathway were prospectively identified between 1 May 2020 and 31 August 2020. Patients were triaged remotely using telephone consultations. Risk stratification was performed using the ‘Head and Neck Cancer Risk Calculator’ (HaNC-RC v.2).

RESULTS: Four-hundred and twelve patients were triaged remotely during the 4-month study period. Of these, 248 patients were deemed ‘low risk’ (60.2%), 78 were classed as ‘moderate risk’ (18.9%) and 86 were considered ‘high risk’ (20.9%) according to the HaNC-RC v.2 risk score. Twenty-four patients who were assessed during the study period were diagnosed with head and neck cancer (5.82%).

CONCLUSION: The use of teleconsultation, supported by a validated, symptom-based risk calculator, has the potential to provide a viable and effective adjunct in the assessment and management of new suspected head and neck cancer patients and should be considered as part of the inherent re-shaping of clinical service delivery following the ongoing pandemic.

PMID:34661717 | DOI:10.1007/s00405-021-07135-3

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