Purpose: To take initiative within the clinic by preparing and delivering patient education materials regarding breath hold treatments prior to simulation.
Methods: Several PowerPoint presentations were prepared to educate breath hold patients prior to simulation. These presentations were designed to be relevant to L Breast, general DIBH, and general EEBH patients. These presentations take less than 10 minutes to deliver. Several key pieces of information are communicated to the patient. First, we explain that this process is important for reproducible positioning during treatment. We next explain that they will be asked to hold their breath during some of the images taken at simulation and during each treatment. To alleviate patient concern, it is important to communicate that a breath hold of roughly 15 seconds will be beneficial, and that patients will have time to catch their breath. Shifting focus to the start of treatment, we emphasize that the treatment machine will automatically turn off when the patient stops holding their breath, and patients will have time to catch their breath. Usually, around 2.5 minutes of total breath hold time is sufficient to complete an entire treatment.
Results: In general, patients are receptive to this education. By educating the patients in a consultation room, there are no other distractions or demands of the patient; they can focus on the instructions. Physicians have noted that simulations take less time when the MP has consulted the patient. Patients are generally more comfortable and confident when educated about breath hold treatments. As a cautionary note, patients almost always ask about potential side effects.
Conclusion: Patient education prior to breath hold simulations/treatments is an excellent opportunity for medical physicists to ensure that patient care is effective and efficient.