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Red Flag cards alert physios

4 May 2011 - 12:03pm

Physiotherapists have helped design a handy wallet-sized card that can help clinicians spot a condition that could be an early indicator of cancer.

The credit card-sized guidance tool uses the acronym ‘Red flag’ to identify patients with Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression (MSCC).

The cards list 8 ‘red flag’ signs associated with MSCC, a condition that can be the first indication of undiagnosed cancer. Each letter of the words ‘red flag’ serves as a reminder of symptoms to look out for.

The card presentation idea was initiated by staff from the Bolton Orthopaedic Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) after it was found that up to a quarter of patients present to musculoskeletal services with MSCC as the first indication of malignancy.

‘We know that the earlier this serious condition is identified the better the patient outcome,’ said CSP Fellow Susan Greenhalgh, a consultant physiotherapist, and clinical lead for Orthopaedic CATS and MSK services at Bolton PCT.

‘So we wanted to give general clinicians something that would help them identify those at risk.’

Collaborative project

The bullet point alert system featured on the cards was created by Bolton Orthopaedic CATS collaborating with the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, in Manchester, and Professor James Selfe from the University of Central Lancashire.

Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network has now printed and distributed 9,000 copies of the cards to frontline clinicians and growing interest could lead to the project being rolled out on a national level.

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