Infusion nurses specialize in medication and fluid administration through IV access lines. Rheumatology nurses specialize in the care of patients with rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus. While the two specialties seem very different, there can be overlap in treatment that nurses should be prepared for.

One of the most significant areas of overlap is medication administration and maintenance. Some of the medications used to treat rheumatic illnesses are given via infusions. For example, the drug Remicade is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The infusion can take up to two hours to complete. Depending on the healthcare setting, either infusion nurses or rheumatology nurses can administer it. Both are responsible for educating the patient on the medication to include side effects, length of time of the infusion, and what to expect. Other rheumatic illnesses that may require medication infusions include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Scleroderma

Occasionally, blood transfusions are needed for complications of rheumatic illnesses. Certain illnesses result in GI bleeding or anemia, and infusion nurses or rheumatology nurses may need to transfuse blood. As with medication administration, nurses must educate patients on the transfusion procedure, side effects, and what to expect during treatment.

There are many areas of overlap between nursing specialties, and rheumatology and infusion nursing is no different. Nurses should be able to address the many facets of disease and treatment to provide the best possible care to patients.