Introduction: Febrile neutropenia is one of the most severe oncological emergencies associated with the treatment of cancer. Patients with febrile neutropenia are at grave risk of developing life-threatening sepsis unless there is rapid initiation of treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of ED care of patients with febrile neutropenia using the 3 quality dimensions of safety, effectiveness, and timeliness of care.
Methods: A retrospective review of all available records of adult cancer patients with febrile neutropenia who presented to 1 urban emergency department in Atlantic Canada was conducted over 5 years.
Results: Examining the 9 quality indicators of the 431patients included in the study identified areas for improvement in each of the 3 dimensions. More than one third of the participants were unsafely discharged from the emergency department despite the severity of their conditions. Patients in the study were not seen promptly by the physician and did not receive timely treatment during different phases of their visit. Most importantly, the delay in antibiotic administration presented a major risk for this population.
Discussion: Aspects of care provided to this cohort of febrile neutropenia patients were inconsistent with the recommended evidence. Strengthening ED care is necessary to reduce the gap between evidence-based and actual care. Quality initiatives can be implemented to improve care to become safer, effective, and timely. Nurses who are in direct contact with the patients and who are actively involved in every single process of the health care system are well positioned to lead this change..