Providing comprehensive care for patients with cancer is complex with regard to severe treatment-related side effects. Hundreds of thousands of patients with cancer visit the emergency department (ED) each year, and more than half report multiple visits. In the United States, few of the National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers have an ED specifically for patients with cancer. EDs often are an overcrowded and expensive way in which to care for the urgent needs of patients with cancer. In addition, a looming shortage exists for both primary care providers and oncologists who can address symptom issues. As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, more patients will enter the healthcare system, placing a demand on providers that the current supply cannot meet. A report from the Institute of Medicine advocates that nurse practitioners (NPs) are more than competent to provide for the unique urgent care needs of patients with cancer. The aim of this article is to describe an NP-led urgent care center for patients with cancer and how that care center provides access to vital, expeditious, and cost-effective care.
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