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Q&A with Mater Private Urology Nurse Michelle Roberts

Thursday 8 September 2022

Q&A with Mater Private Urology Nurse Michelle Roberts

This Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Mater Private Hospital Brisbane Urology Clinical Nurse Consultant Michelle Roberts shares information about the benefits of a dedicated urology nurse in the care of prostate cancer patients and how patients are guided through their prostate cancer journey from diagnosis through to recovery.

What is the role of a urology clinical nurse in the care of prostate cancer patients?

I care for all patients that opt for surgical treatment at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane. I also see any patient that might be admitted for a urological reason during their prostate cancer journey. I sometimes also provide hormone treatment as required.

One key component to my role is to coordinate and manage the care of patients requiring radical/robotic prostatectomies to treat their prostate cancer.

Another important aspect of my role is patient education.

What type of education do you provide patients and their families?

I meet with all patients and often their partners. In these preoperative education sessions, I provide information on what to expect from admission to discharge and beyond. Partners always have more questions than patients!

We also discuss how to manage wounds and because all prostatectomy patients are discharged with urinary catheters, I provide very specific education on their catheter care postoperatively. I discuss what to expect after catheter removal and talk about possible side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction, and possible management strategies for these.

What are the main side effects after radical prostatectomy?

The most common side effects after robotic radical prostatectomy are urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. I openly talk about these during my preop sessions with patients, and also throughout their admission. I let patients know that it is common to suffer from incontinence postoperatively, but we don’t know if they’ll have issues until their catheter is removed. I use the day of trial of void to assess each patient individually, so I can tailor a management plan just for them.

All our prostatectomy patients are encouraged to begin pelvic floor rehab preoperatively with our men’s health physiotherapy team, and again postoperatively as soon as the catheter is removed. A lot of our patients also see an erectile dysfunction specialist before, and again after surgery, to maximise treatment and recovery as soon as possible.

How are patients supported after treatment, whichever course of action that may be?

All surgical patients discharged from Mater Private Hospital Brisbane are provided with a lot of information to aid in their recovery postoperatively. They are given my contact number for any follow up questions or concerns they might have. Going through cancer surgery is stressful enough but being discharged with a catheter on top of that can be quite confronting. I’m only a phone call away, and my goal is to make the process as comfortable and reassuring as possible for my patients.

At what stages are a patient’s GP informed of the patient’s progress?

GPs are informed every step of the way. Our specialist doctors provide letters to GPs after each consultation with patients. If admitted to hospital, our patients and their GPs all receive a discharge summary, detailing the care they have received, and specific postoperative care instructions.

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