Understanding Home Infusion Therapy

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When Mr. Phillips was unexpectedly admitted to an area hospital and diagnosed with a serious infection, he was immediately started on antibiotics that were administered directly into the blood stream through a catheter in his arm.   As he started feeling better, the hospital case manager spoke to him about finishing his therapy at home and choosing a pharmacy to provide the “infusion” services. The thought of going home with a catheter in his arm was overwhelming and Mr. Phillips wasn’t sure how to choose an infusion company he could trust.

Mr. Phillips’ story happens each day in hospitals. Patients find themselves needing intravenous antibiotics or other infusions that can be safely administered at home and minimize disruptions of the patient’s lifestyle and work activities.  While many individuals prefer to receive treatment at home, going home on infusion medications can cause anxiety due to lack of experience.  Fortunately, safe and easy-to-use devices are available for administration of home intravenous medications. 

Infusion therapy involves the administration of medication directly into a vein.  It is prescribed when a patient’s condition is severe enough that it cannot be treated effectively with oral medications.  Infusion of these medications can be short or long term depending on the diagnosis and severity of the infection. 

There are also other reasons that you might need a home infusion company to provide medication. The most common types of therapy that need a home infusion company are  anti- infectives, Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), Enteral Nutrition, Chemotherapy, Pain Management and Catheter care.   

The most frequently used infusion therapy is IV antibiotics; prescribed primarily for such diagnoses as cellulitis, sepsis, and osteomyelitis, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and sinusitis.

Home infusion therapy is appropriate for patients or caregivers that can learn to be independent with the administration of the medication. The patient or caregiver will be taught to safely administer the medication at home and have weekly visits by the infusion nurse.

Fortunately Mr. Phillips’ case manager has since arranged for a clinical liaison from Infuscience to speak to him about his therapy before leaving the hospital. The infusion company will coordinate with the hospital and physician to safely provide his medications at home.  They will also briefly show the patient how to administer the medication, answering any questions.  After verifying his insurance benefits, discussing coverage, and coordinating the delivery of medication to the home, an experienced infusion nurse will meet him at home and teach him medication administration and catheter care.  The nurse will stay with Mr. Phillips until he is comfortable and independent with his infusions. 

When choosing a home infusion company, patients can ask an infectious disease physician or specialist for recommendations.  They should inquire about a company’s reputation for customer service, clinical excellence and professionalism while asking if they can provide a clinical liaison to visit and answer all questions.  It is also important the company provide the following services:

– Verification of insurance coverage and communication of out-of-pocket expenses.
– Filing of all insurance claims for infusion services.
– Same day delivery of medications and supplies to the home via private courier?
– Pharmacist and nurse availability 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
– Coordination of nursing and all home health needs, with provision of further  instruction and care during treatment.  
– Regular communication with the physician ensuring appropriate care and  consultation with regards to lab monitoring and clinical outcomes. 
– Meeting quality standards and accreditation requirements of a nationally-recognized organization.
– Compounding medications in a state of the art, USP 797 compliant pharmacy.
– The easiest method of delivery available without additional charges.

Information modified from the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA): Infusion FAQs. Available at: http://www.nhia.org/faqs.cfm. Accessed July 14, 2011.

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