Do Infusion Nurses Make House Calls?
Infusion nurses have many different job duties. They infuse everything from fluids for hydration to intermittent medications, and even chemotherapy and blood products. What happens when patients can't physically come to the clinic for ongoing infusions, or they have a malfunction with their access ports?
Infusion nurses can and do make house calls. Normally, this occurs when they are employed with a home health agency or private home care company. As more and more patients are shifted out of the inpatient setting and care is delivered in outpatient facilities or the home, infusion nurses can perform their job duties in the comfort of the patient's home.
There are challenges to home infusions. Usually, patients have a central line for ongoing or long-term infusions and maintaining cleanliness, and the necessary sterility can be challenging depending on the environment. There is less environmental control than there is in an infusion clinic or inpatient setting. Infusion nurses who go out to the home must assess for potential hazards with each visit, and amp up the patient and family education on the importance of sterility/cleanliness when dealing with IV lines.
Another challenge is the concern for adverse reactions to IV therapy while in the home. Since it's usually just the infusion nurse, resources are scarce. In case of emergency, the nurse would have to call 911 and manage the patient independently until emergency techs arrive.
While there are challenges, home infusion nurses enjoy a rewarding job. Visiting patients in the home helps form bonds between the nurse and patients which helps build trust and enhance healing. Home infusion nurses can see the progress patients make on an ongoing basis and it is very fulfilling when they "graduate" from home infusion therapy.