Policy provides direction for complementary therapy

Dos and don’ts spelled out at Grant Medical Center

At Grant Medical Center in Columbus, OH, the patient’s use of complementary therapies are addressed upon admission. "Our main focus is in assessing the patient’s use or desire to use complementary therapy. We know that patients often do not feel comfortable telling us about the use of alternative therapies," says BJ Hansen, BSN, patient education coordinator, Grant/Riverside Methodist Hospitals in Columbus. From that point, the doctor and patient can discuss the therapies and how they may affect the patient during treatment.

The assessment is part of hospital policy because the use of complementary therapies may affect planning for a patient’s care. The policy for the use of complementary and supplemental therapies also is spelled out and covers three categories. The first is herbal therapies or dietary supplemental therapies described in the policy as "non-FDA-approved oral preparations such as ginkgo biloba and St. John’s wort."

The second category is complementary or alternative therapies, defined as "therapy not accepted as traditional Western medicine." Examples include acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal medicines. The third category is supplementary measures, which are "therapies that do not require manipulation, administration of a substance, or use of needles or other invasive treatments." These include pet, art, and music therapy.

The policy for approved complementary and supplemental therapies at Grant Medical Center reads as follows:

• Herbal or supplemental dietary therapies

  1. If a patient requests herbal or other supplemental dietary therapy, the physician must carefully review each patient request based on the therapeutic benefit vs. the risk.
  2. If the physician approves the therapy, he or she must write an order for the therapy.
  3. If a patient requests a complementary therapy that the physician will not approve, the ethics committee may be consulted. This committee is advisory in nature and will attempt to achieve consensus among parties.
  4. The pharmacy will be notified of the substance ordered from the copy of the written order. The hospital pharmacy will not stock or dispense non-FDA-approved agents. Patients will be required to have their own supply.
  5. The procedure for "Patient’s Own Medication" will be followed for administration and recording.

• Other complementary therapies

  1. If a patient requests a complementary therapy, physicians carefully must review each patient request based on the therapeutic benefit vs. risk.
  2. If the physician approves the therapy, he or she must write an order for the therapy.
  3. If a patient requests a complementary therapy that the physician will not approve, the ethics committee may be consulted. This committee is advisory in nature and will attempt to achieve consensus among parties.
  4. Complementary therapy providers will be approved by the board following the current procedures for granting privileges or allied health practitioner approval.

• Supplemental measures

  1. Supplemental measures may be offered to a patient as part of the comprehensive care provided by Grant Medical Center.
  2. If a patient wishes to participate in therapy, it is documented in the medical record.
  3. A patient may opt not to participate in the therapy.
  4. Providers of supplemental measures, such as art therapy, pet therapy, etc., are often volunteers and do not require credentialing. For pet therapy, the guidelines defined in SPP PAWS4 (in-house policy code) must be followed.

For more information about this policy or creating policy on complementary therapy, contact:

  • BJ Hansen, BSN, Patient Education Coordinator, Grant/Riverside Methodist Hospitals, 111 S. Grant Ave., Columbus, OH 43215. Telephone: (614) 566-5613. E-mail: bhansen@ohiohealth.com.