Children are not small adults, especially when it comes to home infusion therapy.
They’re growing and need care, treatment, and equipment geared to their little bodies and changing needs. And—depending on their age and maturity level—children may not even be able to tell caregivers what those needs are, how they feel, or where it hurts.
Prescription for pediatric patients: treat kids like kids
Health care providers must consider a host of factors when treating children—especially children with serious, chronic, and often life-threatening illnesses.
Drawing on her experience in building an organization geared to respond to the unique needs of the pediatric population, PHS President Susan Wingert shared some insights on this topic in an article appearing in the September/October issue of INFUSION magazine. INFUSION is the official journal of the National Home Infusion Association and the nation’s leading publication covering the field of alternate-site infusion therapy.
The story, Meeting the Unique Needs of the Pediatric Home Care Patients—Lessons from a Full-Service Provider,” was one of a series in an issue focused on alternate-site infusion across the lifespan. Following is just a brief look at some of what Susan had to say about the pediatric population.
What makes pediatric patients different from adults?
- Children metabolize drugs differently than adults.
- Children are constantly growing.
- Smaller body size means different needs.
- Children aren’t always able to understand their condition or even that the medical team is trying to help them.
- When the child is the patient, the entire family is often involved in the treatment.
- Coordinating care is especially important for providers working with pediatric patients as growth and other factors call for more frequent assessments.
Considerations in treating kids with serious illnesses
PHS staff is keenly aware of the clinical and support factors that need to be considered with medically-fragile pediatric patients at home and devises strategies to address them:
- High-tech equipment needs to fit little bodies. Fortunately, finding medical equipment isn’t as challenging as it once was. Medical suppliers now offer smaller catheters and tubing, small-volume pumps, and backpacks that hold IV solution and pumps so children can be more active.
- Clinical care plans are customized for each child. A multidisciplinary team is needed, including the physician, family, and all providers who will be involved in the care at home.
- Caregivers are trained. Family members and other caregivers are trained to use the equipment, administer medications and troubleshoot. Materials and teaching tools are provided and parents are encouraged to call with questions anytime.
- The PHS pharmacy is designed for kids. PHS pharmacists are clinical experts in pediatric care, and understand weight-based pediatric dosing, as well as the differences in drug metabolism between pediatric and adult patients.
- Support is provided for families. PHS provides resources and training for family members, as well as assistance with billing and insurance coverage and reimbursement.