A therapeutic regimen is a plan for treating disease. This can involve participation between patients, care providers, and others with an interest in treatment. Effective development of treatment plans requires a diagnosis, a discussion of factors that might impact the case, and identification of specific treatment goals. In some cases, this may be a straightforward process, while in others, it can become extremely complex.
In a simple example, if a patient shows up at a clinic with a urinary tract infection, the diagnosis is easy to make and the goal should be the elimination of the infection and restoration of normal urinary tract health. The therapeutic regimen might include antibiotic medications to kill bacteria, anti inflammatory drugs if the patient is in pain, and followup testing to make sure the infection is resolved. Patients could also be directed to drink fluids and exercise hygiene precautions throughout the course of the infection.
Doctors, nurses, and other care providers can be involved in the creation of a therapeutic regimen. Identification of a diagnosis and goals could involve feedback from several sources. A patient with metastatic breast cancer, for example, may need reports from pathologists and radiologists to determine the specific nature and extent of the cancer. Treatment goals could involve controlling the cancer, not necessarily curative therapy that will eliminate it, and managing pain to keep the patient comfortable.
Aspects of a therapeutic regimen can include medication, procedures, and lifestyle changes. Patients may need surgery, dietary modifications, or other treatments to successfully address an illness. Care providers also need to consider limiting factors like known allergies to medications, or concerns expressed by the patient about the ability to follow some aspects of the plan. Even if a treatment is medically indicated, if the patient cannot comply with it, it may not be an appropriate addition to a therapeutic regimen. The patient might need education to learn how to enact some parts of the plan, such as training from a nurse to effectively track symptoms in therapy.
The details of a therapeutic regimen can be entered in patient charts to provide information about the plan. Some cases may require a care plan signed and acknowledged by the patient to make it clear that information was provided in a clear and understandable way. As treatment proceeds, periodic check-ins can assess progress and determine if changes need to be made. A patient who does not respond to antibiotics for a urinary tract infection, for example, may need a different medication or a urine culture to check for sensitivity.