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Explaining the confusion with infusion - How does COVID-19 affect infusion?

August 10, 2020

As summer begins, the infusion market starts to dwindle due to vacations.  But this summer has been a little different due to the restrictions and recommendations caused by COVID-19.  Patients have found themselves waiting to seek treatment until they feel safe to go back into infusion facilities.  Many people who are getting infusion therapy have diseases that weaken their immune system.  Going anywhere during the pandemic could be a potential threat, even to the places they receive treatment. Not only are patients avoiding care, studies are revealing that even if they choose to continue with treatment, it is difficult to schedule appointments due to care centers closing doors or reducing operating hours as a response to the pandemic. A study by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network found that 79% of cancer patients in treatment had experienced delays in care, including 17% who saw delays in chemotherapy or radiation therapy.[1]

If you are not familiar with infusion you might not know that many people are receiving treatments that drastically enhance quality of life. If someone has a disease where they cannot eat, take their medication properly or need medication to go directly into their bloodstream, they will most likely turn to infusion therapy.[2]  By using an intravenous (IV) infusion, a person can receive their medication directly into their veins.  Usually this is done with the help of gravity or a pump.  Infusion therapy offers a perfect solution for someone with cancer, Chron’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, bacterial and fungal infections, migraines, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and more.1, [3]  IV medications are manufactured and administered by healthcare professionals.  Some of these medications include antibiotics, biologics, specialty medications, chemotherapy, etc.

Many people with diseases may feel threatened by public places at this time due to their weakened immune systems. However, for a great number of patients, delaying treatment could mean the difference between life or death.  So, what is the solution?

Home infusion offers a safe and cost-effective method for treating most patients with minimal intrusion in their daily lives.[4]  Until the 1980s, patients receiving infusion therapy had to remain in the inpatient setting for the duration of their therapy.  For individuals requiring long-term therapy, inpatient care was not only very expensive, but also kept the individual from resuming their normal lifestyle.  Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the use of alternate infusion site locations is in high-demand.  Home and specialty infusion providers play a critical role in supporting patients.

The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) recommends utilizing and adhering to existing policies where applicable.  They also recommend creating COVID-19 specific policies as needed.  Some of the recommendations include frequent handwashing, conserving personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing, restricting visitors during infusion, etc.[5]

Even with proper protocols home infusion does not come without risk.  Home infusion sites should develop and implement its own protocols for high risk COVID-19 patients and personnel to maintain a state-of-control.  Staff should follow quarantine guidelines if they have been exposed to the virus. 

Similarly, if a patient has suspected or confirmed COVID-19, nurses should wear enhanced PPE, such as gowns, N-95 respirators, face shields, goggles and gloves.[6]

Home infusions provide a safer alternative to inpatient and/or outpatient infusion therapy due to COVID-19.  It is important to have a proper and effective cleaning and disinfecting routine to practice before the nurse or physician enters the home and after they leave.  Similarly, make sure those that are entering the home are following safety guidelines to protect both themselves and their patients.

Whether in a facility or someone’s home, maintaining a state-of-control should be a priority. Navigating this process doesn’t have to be complicated. Contact a Contec Healthcare representative to hear more about our solutions to keep your facilities safe and clean.

Stay up to date with other COVID-19 news and information, check out our resource page.

 


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