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Pharmacies asked to ‘source and supply’ steroid emergency cards

Pharmacies can order the cards from Primary Care Support England from September 1, PSNC said
Pharmacies can order the cards from Primary Care Support England from September 1, PSNC said

English pharmacies have been asked to “source and supply” steroid emergency cards, to offer them as replacements to patients who have lost or damaged theirs.

Carrying a steroid emergency card can help healthcare staff identify patients with adrenal insufficiency and “gives information on the emergency treatment to start if they are acutely ill, or experience trauma, surgery or other major stressors”, according to a national patient safety alert issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement last week (August 13).

Community and hospital pharmacies have been asked to ensure they have copies of these cards available to offer to patients with adrenal insufficiency, to replace damaged or missing cards.

However, the primary responsibility to issue a steroid emergency card “to all eligible patients” lies with the prescriber, and “all organisations that initiate steroid prescriptions should review their processes/policies and their digital systems/software and prompts” to ensure they are doing this, the alert said.

Orders from September 

Pharmacies can view a PDF version of the card on the Society for Endocrinology website and can start placing orders for the card with Primary Care Support England from September 1, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said on Monday (August 17).

The card can be used by patients aged 16 and above, the Society for Endocrinology explained in a statement on its website.

All patients with primary adrenal insufficiency are steroid dependent, while some patients who “take oral, inhaled or topical steroids for other medical conditions may develop secondary adrenal insufficiency and be steroid dependent”, according to the patient safety alert.

“Omission of steroids for patients with adrenal insufficiency can lead to adrenal crisis; a medical emergency which if left untreated can be fatal.”

Prescribers undertaking standard or scheduled reviews should also issue a steroid emergency card “where necessary”, the alert said.

6 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of this alert?

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Ha! Never done one, never will unless I'm paid to do so, without mountains of paperwork

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Those cards aren't very useful. Like, where the current treatment plan? And the benefit of writing down the treatment for adrenal crisis is of limited benefit as well, in my opinion.

D Change, Community pharmacist

Pay me and I'll do it. I don't work for free. Everything has a cost. Cough up the money you're paying these other Health professionals and I'll sing till the rising sun.

Chris Jones, Superintendent Pharmacist

 Are these designed to replace the current blue streoid cards?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Don't know because my understanding was we have always been supposed to supply those and ensure the dosage was correct on them. Actually DOING it was a totally different kettle of fish, but I'm sure that's what we are supposed to do.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

That was the idea. I've probably only done a few over the years.  Usually no stock. 

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