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Multidisciplinary care centres needed for lupus treatment

Published:Sunday | November 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Lupus Foundation member Consultant Nephrologist Dr Charmaine Watson-Brown has big dreams for the future of lupus treatment in Jamaica.

As Watson-Brown shared her vision for multidisciplinary-care centres, she channelled the futuristic view of journalists present at a Gleaner Editors' Forum, where she and other members of the Lupus Foundation were guests.

For Watson-Brown, the wide-ranging effects of lupus on the body demand a team of specialists dealing with all the various issues associated with the illness. For her, once a basic level of research and a national lupus registry have got off the ground, attention needs to be focused on providing multidisciplinary approaches to treating lupus.

"I think it's ambitious but having done our research and established our database, we would have to start looking at multidisciplinary clinics," Watson-Brown told journalists and colleagues in attendance at a Gleaner Editors' Forum held at the company's central Kingston offices last week.

improving clinical outcomes

The concept of multidisciplinary speciality clinics evolved in order to provide comprehensive coordinated care for patients with complex diseases. According to studies, these models have repeatedly been shown to improve clinical outcomes in a variety of conditions.

Watson-Brown further made the case for multidisciplinary centres for the treatment of lupus by pointing out that the disease is a multi-system disorder, and as such, requires a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.

"Very often, we have our patients being referred from, say, the general practitioner to the rheumatologist; having renal involvement and then being referred to the nephrologist; having cardiac involvement and then being referred to the cardiologist. But my vision for the way we practise medicine in this country is for us to become the model for how multidisciplinary models are set up," she argued.

For Watson-Brown, multi-disciplinary clinics can make the difference for lupus patients.

"Multidisciplinary clinics are set up for multi-system illnesses. If we have a lupus clinic where the social worker is available, the nutritionist is available, the cardiologist is there, how much different would our outcomes be?" she asked.