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.