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Guidelines to Enhance Patient Care

Health professionals in Nova Scotia now have new provincial guidelines for oncologic emergencies. While designed to meet the needs of emergency departments and paramedics, the guidelines will be helpful to all who care for cancer patients.

“Cancer is complex and with that complexity, there is the potential for patients to develop emergency conditions,” said Meg McCallum, Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Provincial Manager, Education and Patient Navigation. “Until recently, there was no consistent approach in the province for managing oncologic emergencies.”

onc_emrg14Cancer Care Nova Scotia invited a multidisciplinary group from across the province to collaborate on the development of provincial guidelines. The group reviewed guidelines in place throughout North America and considered current evidence. Cancer patients and family members who had experienced an oncologic emergency were also invited to complete a survey. The survey results, literature review and evidence informed the development of the guidelines, the cancer patient fever card and patient education resources.

In August 2014, “CCNS’s Guidelines for the Management of Oncologic Emergencies in Adult Cancer Patients”, and the updated cancer patient fever card were distributed to health professionals across the province. To support implementation of the guidelines, CCNS is offering in-services to health professionals, upon request, as well as a one-day oncologic emergencies boot camp on November 28th.

“Health professionals won’t need their running shoes for this boot camp,” said Meg, “but they will need to be prepared to cover a lot of ground, as participants will explore all 12 oncologic emergencies guidelines.

“The need for multiple phone calls, and text book and internet searches to remind practitioners how to manage rarely encountered presentations is over,” said Dr. Sam Campbell, a member of the working group charged with developing the guideline and Chief of the Charles V. Keating Emergency and Trauma Centre for the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

“These guidelines provide busy emergency physicians and their coworkers with user-friendly directions to manage emergencies in cancer patients effectively and with a minimum of delay, at any time of day.”

The “Guidelines for the Management of Oncologic Emergencies in Adult Cancer Patients” are available on our website at

Health professionals who are interested in scheduling an in-service or attending the November 28th boot camp may call CCNS at 1-866-599-2267.


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