Infusion therapy refers to administering medication through a needle or catheter and is typically prescribed when a patient’s condition does not allow effective treatment with oral medication. Home health care nurses commonly administer therapies intravenously to deliver medications, for blood transfusions, for fluid replacement, or to correct electrolyte imbalance and is also used for chemotherapy. Intravenous therapy is the fastest way to deliver fluids and medications throughout the body.
There are several different types of access devices used to infuse medications. The type of access device that a patient has is based on the type of therapy, length of therapy and pH of the drug to be infused. Here are some examples of the types of devices our home health care nurses work with:
- A peripheral access device is a short IV (less than 2 inches) inserted into veins in the arm or hand. This type of IV is used for short term therapies and needs to be changed after 3 to 4 days or as needed.
- A central vascular access device is inserted into large veins in the central circulation like the jugular vein. This type of line is used for patients with long term therapy and can remain in place for over a year.
- Peripherally inserted central catheters are placed in the basilic, brachial or cephalic veins of the upper arm. These lines are inserted by a specially trained nurse or interventional radiologist. They are placed in the hospital and an X-ray is needed to confirm placement in the lower third of the superior vena cava. These lines can remain in place for weeks to a year if tolerated.
- The port-a-cath is implanted subcutaneously and provides access to the central circulatory system. The port-a-cath is accessed by the nurse with a special needle to provide samples for labs or for infusion. Ports are used primarily for oncology patients or long term therapies.
The most common therapies HealthStar Home Health nurses work with in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and throughout Minnesota are:
- Anti-infective therapy – treats post-op infections, infected wounds, sepsis, diverticulitis or any other type of infection
- Total parenteral nutrition therapy – for clients unable to take in nutrition orally due to bowel issues or swallowing problems
- IVIG therapy – treats primary immunodeficiency diseases
- Hydration fluid therapy – treats hyperemesis of pregnancy or patients with severe nausea
- IV steroid therapy – to treat exacerbations of Multiple Sclerosis
For patients with cancer, we provide chemotherapy disconnects in the home. The patient must go to the hospital or oncology clinic to have the chemo infusion started, but once the treatment is complete a HealthStar Home Health nurse can remove the access device. Our nurses also educate patients on enteral feeding, which is nutrition administered through a tube inserted in the stomach or jejunum portion of the colon, as well as wound care including wound VAC care.
Our home health nurses provide teaching in the home for most therapies so the clients can monitor their own infusions. Infusion therapy in the home allows the client to spend less time in or at the hospital or infusion center. The teaching process is set up to be very user friendly with simplified educational materials that enable lay people to become proficient at administering their IV infusions and alleviate their fears of IV therapy.
Our skilled nurses then see these clients weekly or as needed for lab draws and sterile dressing changes of their IV devices. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-call problems with therapy or device problems. Common questions or problems can include inflammation of the vein, occlusions of the devices, skin irritation, compromised dressings or adverse reactions to the IV medication.
At HealthStar Home Health, our home health professionals provide unparalleled public health care services through stewardship, honor-driven values, and a genuine desire to serve. Our Minnesota clients benefit from the range of healthcare services we provide, from Alzheimer’s and dementia care, to behavioral nursing, home health care nursing, respite care and more. HealthStar Home Health has a team of nurses dedicated to IV infusion. We work with several infusion companies and pharmacies to provide IV services to our patients in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area and throughout Minnesota. IV infusion therapy is our passion and we provide services to a wide range of ages and cultures by developing culturally-relevant services while identifying barriers to care, and launching culture-specific care and prevention programs.
At HealthStar Home Health, we help make strong communities and families in the Twin Cities metro area by enabling individuals of all ages to live more independent and fulfilling lives. Contact us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a consultation at no charge.