Patient interactions make up a significant part of any home infusion practice. And in order to provide the highest level of care, it's important to follow all infusion therapy best practices related to these interactions, offering safe, reliable in-home services that prioritize patient outcomes and instill confidence when and where it's needed most.
For many patients, home infusion therapy is a convenient and cost-effective alternative to hospital care. Recent data shows that there are more than 3.2 million patients benefiting from home infusion therapies,1 and this number is expected to grow as an aging population faces a myriad of chronic health conditions.2
The goal of any home care model is to make sure that patients receive the same quality of care at home that they would receive in a more clinical setting. Achieving this requires an unwavering commitment to infection prevention best practices, with safety-driven models of care that continue to make home infusion therapy a viable option for the many patients who need it.
So, what do these best practices look like? Here are some of the major considerations to keep in mind during home infusion patient interactions.
Home infusion therapy best practices for patient interactions
There are many benefits to administering therapies at home instead of in the hospital. Among them is an opportunity for vulnerable patient populations to avoid hospital visits and the possible infection risks they pose. But home infusions don't eliminate these risks completely, which is why extra care is necessary to maximize safety during all stages of interaction.
Follow these infusion therapy best practices to help mitigate infection risk during patient interactions and keep both patients and providers safe.
Effective infection prevention starts before the first infusion. It's essential that providers have a full understanding of a patient's condition and any factors that may increase their risk of infection, such as age, a lack of mobility or a weakened immune response. Providers should consider a patient's home environment, too, with special care taken to address any potential barriers to care efficiency.
There are educational aspects to patient prep as well — especially if a patient or their caregiver is responsible for ongoing infusions or daily management of an infusion access device. Providers should go over all necessary information related to care of the infusion site and make sure patients and caregivers are aware of the signs of an infection or other adverse reaction.
In many cases, the home infusion provider outfits a patient with an infusion device prior to their leaving the hospital. This makes overall prep work easier for the provider, but still leaves the need for specialized products that must be properly placed and/or managed during visits, such as an IV, catheter, tubing and the drugs themselves.
Cleanliness should remain a top concern when setting up products for use, as should clinical competency. Any improper handling of infusion products increases the risk of complications and infections and can also lead to patient discomfort. And because some of these products can intimidate patients even in a home environment, it may prove useful to walk patients through the purpose of various clinical supplies and pieces of equipment, regardless of whether or not it's something they'll eventually have to manage on their own.
Handling hazardous drugs (HDs)
Infusion providers must handle HDs in a safe manner while also navigating unforeseen exposure hazards like nonsterile environments, inadequate workstations, family member and pet disruptions and a lack of backup care and assistive devices.3 This is where having predetermined infection prevention best practices really comes into play because there is no margin for error when it comes to HD handling and administration.
Though the home setting can certainly present challenges, abiding by a basic foundation of HD handling practices goes a long way toward alleviating risk. These include standardized protocols around cleaning practices, personal preventive equipment (PPE) and spill management. Other safe medication practices like verifying drug labels and checking drug expiration dates prior to infusions should be a top priority as well.
USP <800> compliance
The U.S. Pharmacopeia's (USP) General Chapter <800> outlines a variety of HD safety requirements for home infusion nurses and other healthcare providers. It also establishes standards for products related to HD preparation and administration.
All products used when interacting with a patient or handling HDs in a patient's home should comply with USP <800>, from gloves and apparel to wipes and disinfectants. These products help minimize risk exposure to patients and providers and are specially designed to meet USP standards.
In addition to making these products readily available for home infusion visits, providers should receive training on how to use each product under USP <800> guidelines. Check product packaging labels to verify USP <800> compliance and read through instructions for use. If the information is not readily available, contact the manufacturer directly.
Want to learn about how USP <800> impacts the pharmacy cleanroom? Check out our related article, Infection prevention best practices for infusion providers: The pharmacy cleanroom >
Safer patient interactions mean fewer infection risks
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to home infusion therapy. There are, however, general best practices that all home infusion providers can and should follow in order to reduce the risk of infections and other negative care outcomes.
Enhanced safety practices start on an organizational level. The best practices noted above should be incorporated into training protocols and introduced as a standard part of in-home care so that all infusion providers are on the same page about what's expected. This helps standardize expectations for patient interactions and provides a predictable routine for providers to follow in all home environments.
You can't eliminate all infection risks with home infusion therapy, but you can take steps wherever possible to promote and implement sound practices that help keep patients and providers safe. From the first patient interaction to the last, make a point of following a safety-first model that is attuned to the realities of in-home HD administration, and make big and small changes as needed to provide patients with top-tier care outside of a hospital setting.
Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only and is not complete clinical information. This information is intended for use only by competent healthcare professionals exercising judgment in providing care. McKesson cannot be held responsible for the continued currency of or for any errors or omissions in the information.
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