Grant Application

Ruth Violet Fisher, MSN, RN, CEN, EMT-P, UPMC Shadyside Emergency Department

Proposed Innovation

The UPMC Shadyside Emergency Department treats an average of 140 patients a day — 25 percent of whom are oncology patients who arrive from home or the Hillman Cancer Center in a state of crisis.

Through this project, an Oncology Emergency Department (ED) will be established within the existing emergency department as a specialized treatment area for cancer patients. The goal is to provide better symptom management and decrease unnecessary admissions.

Improvements in Action

The goal of this innovative oncology area is to provide safe, skilled, and quality care for cancer patients. Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) trained in oncology will evaluate patients in collaboration with ED physicians and nurses. All ED nurses will undergo training focused on cancer as a disease, treatment options and their side effects, and how to recognize and treat oncological emergencies. Two oncology-designated nurses will staff the Oncology ED on a regular basis.

Improving the triage process will ensure oncology patients are taken to the specialized oncology treatment area. Five rooms in the ED will be transformed into a comfortable environment for cancer patients and their families. These rooms will be equipped with special recliners and soothing lighting. Integrative medicine — such as massage, aromatherapy, and other nonprescription methods — will be incorporated into treatment for pain and symptom relief. In addition, comfort carts equipped with healthy snacks, bottled water, coffee and tea, blankets, magazines, and coloring books will be provided.

The ED nurse will be educated in treating not just a patient with an illness, but the person as a whole.


Having a dedicated treatment area for cancer patients staffed by emergency department nurses trained to understand oncology and treatment side effects is expected to improve patient care and reduce unnecessary admissions.