Q: How can I go about developing a multi-disciplinary LE Team?
A: Developing a multi-disciplinary LE team really begins as a grassroots effort. It is important to find at least one or two other colleagues in your practice setting who consider lymphedema a serious enough quality of life problem that they are willing to dedicate effort to managing this problem. Once you have identified these individuals, it is important to sit down as a group and discuss your goals as a team and begin identifying resources in your community and practice. As our team began, our first goals were to encourage practitioners to speak with all patients about the risk of LE.. Of primary importance when developing your own goals, are the needs of your patient population—Education? Treatment? Screening? Financial Support?
Q: How do I find lymphedema resources?
A: When first developing a team, the types of resources you need may vary based on your goals. When looking for educational tools, it may be best to review information available at various sources. Or you may find that it’s best to develop your own tool that reflects the philosophy and approach of your program. LE school websites contain information on training courses for LE therapists and lists of certified therapists in your community. For financial resources, look to charitable organizations in your hospital or community.
Q: How do I establish a lymphedema screening program?
A: There are various tools available to measure lymphedema. Because of the multifaceted presentation of different lymphedemas, it is important to include tools that identify symptoms, functional compromise, and quality of life, as well as an objective measure of the edema. It is also important to establish strategies for consistent baseline evaluations – in the setting of cancer-related lymphedema a pre-operative limb measurement is appropriate.
Q: What are the most effective ways your team communicates?
A: We have found that the best way to communicate is through a culture of openness. Our team meets regularly to discuss issues related to team goals, research, and common interest. On a daily basis, many of us communicate by email, pager and phone to discuss patient situations. Furthermore, we have integrated the discussion of lymphedema into clinical settings among all practitioners within and beyond our team.
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