Pulmonary Hypertension Team Saves Lives 24/7

Nov 14, 2013
Accredo team of expert nurses keeps life-sustaining medication flowing to pulmonary hypertension patients.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension

You never know the situation of a patient on the other end of the phone. One of our pulmonary hypertension patients called us with a unique situation. She was at a slot machine that just kept paying out. She also needed life-sustaining infused medication for her pulmonary hypertension – high blood pressure in the main artery to the lungs – a condition that has no cure, but can be medically managed.

The patient didn’t gamble with her life. She called her nurse team at Accredo, Express Scripts specialty pharmacy, and asked to have the medication sent to the casino. And we made that happen.

Knowledgeable Team Enables Better Outcomes for Patients

That’s just one example of the lengths our National Clinical Support Center (NCSC) team goes to make sure patients get the medications and supplies they need.

The team – 16 specially trained registered nurses – save lives around the clock, providing emergency phone assistance for more than 12,000 pulmonary hypertension patients who rely on high-tech pumps that continually infuse their medication.

A failure of the pump – or a clotted, detached or broken line – can lead to exacerbation of symptoms within minutes, and even heart failure and cardio pulmonary arrest. That’s why it’s necessary to have a team of experts available around the clock.

Education, Dedication, Accessibility

The team members are experienced, tenured nurses. They love what they do. The average tenure of team members is more than eight years. We joke when we hire a new team member that they’d better not expect to get on the day shift anytime soon.

The team must be well organized and able to remain calm in a crisis. The nurses support the patients and caregivers in the therapy education process, as well as troubleshooting with pump alarms, supplies, and central line and site care.

In addition, the NCSC team connects regularly with specialist pharmacists, who counsel pulmonary hypertension patients, and with Accredo field nurses, who provide in-home care.

Accredo’s Advanced Therapy Pharmacy in Warrendale, Pa., provides patients with their pumps, medication and supplies. Patients have two pumps so that there is always a backup.

Patients and caregivers receive training in pump operation, dressing care and mixing of their medication.

Providing Support in All Situations

A failure or complication with routine procedures quickly can become an emergency. Sudden changes in temperature can cause condensation in the pump. Patients can drop pumps or accidentally disconnect their lines. They can get delayed in travels without a backup pump or sufficient medication or supplies.

In one memorable example, a pet rabbit bit through a child’s central line.

Team members often advise physicians in rural healthcare facilities where no one on staff is familiar with the infusion pumps. They similarly advise emergency medical technicians who respond to a patient crisis.

In a recent case, a patient collapsed inside a fast-food restaurant. She didn’t have her backup pump with her. With one phone call, we were able to instruct the EMTs when they arrived.

No matter what the situation, the nursing teams provide patients with the support they need to best manage their disease.

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