What is an MDT?

We take a look at how medical experts approach their decision making

You may have heard the term ‘MDT ‘ - which stands for multidisciplinary team, but what does the term actually mean and how do these teams benefit patients? Across our healthcare system, we bring together groups of doctors and specialists to help decide the best route of care for a patient.

Here, Mr Roberto Casula, Cardiothoracic Surgeon who is part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) at The Wellington Hospital, part of HCA UK, explains more about cardiac MDTs.

What are the benefits of an MDT?

Adopting an MDT approach means that a wide team of professionals are contributing to your care, rather than just having the input of one of two specialists. At our cardiac hospitals across HCA UK, your cardiologist will present the details of your case to other cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as with echocardiography and cardiac MRI specialists who can then share their insights and expertise and reach a decision about the most appropriate care a patient requires and the surgical approach. 

As a consultant, an MDT meeting also presents an opportunity for me to broaden my horizons and hear perspectives from other consultants with their own specialisms and regional expertise. Even with years of experience, it's important that as consultants we are constantly keeping our knowledge updated alongside the latest innovations and approaches in surgery and medicine, which are rapidly evolving. In many cases, consultants attend MDTs not because they have a patient of their own to present and discuss, but often just to contribute to the discussion and support other colleagues.

MDTs offer the opportunity to think about all of the potential treatment options; ultimately, it's all about finding the approach that will give the best outcome for the patient and their own individual circumstances. For example, I might present a patient’s case and another consultant might suggest a percutaneous approach (a procedure performed via needle puncture of the skin rather than open surgery). It is paramount to also consider each patient’s individual suitability to a less invasive surgical approach, as is recommended by recently published National Insititute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Who takes part in an MDT?

The clue is in the name! Multidisciplinary means bringing together different experts whose insights will contribute to the patient's care in some way. For example, in a cardiac MDT we will have cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, you might have theatre nurses who will be assisting during surgery, other team members from the catheter lab (where special cardiac tests and percutaneous procedures are carried out), as well as perhaps a cardiac rehabilitation specialist or physiotherapist, who will be focusing on the individual patient’s needs and requirements - so that their needs can supported post-surgery. I think that’s another useful aspect about an MDT - every member of the team is given the opportunity to play an integral part in a patient’s complex journey.

What stands out about MDTs at HCA UK?

I have always been hugely impressed by the quality of the teams taking part in multidisciplinary meetings. You can share your knowledge and clinical experience with many other excellent specialists from so many hospitals and university hospitals in the region, which ultimately translates into highly specialised, evidence-based treatment approaches for each individual patient.

Learn more about the cardiac care we offer here