Q. What is infusion therapy?
A. Home infusion therapy involves the administration of medications using intravenous, subcutaneous, and epidural routes (into the bloodstream, under the skin, and into the membranes surrounding the spinal cord).
Drug therapies commonly administered via infusion include antibiotics, chemotherapy, pain management, parenteral nutrition, and immune globulin. Diagnoses commonly requiring infusion therapy include infections that are unresponsive to oral antibiotics; cancer and cancer-related pain; gastrointestinal diseases or disorders which prevent normal functioning of the GI system; congestive heart failure; immune disorders; growth hormone deficiencies; and more.
Q. What does home bound mean?
A. The patient's condition is such that leaving the home is medically contraindicated or that the illness/injury would restrict the individual's ability to leave the home without supportive devices, the use of special transportation or the assistance of another person. The patient would only make infrequent visits outside the home and mainly relating to medical treatment.
Q. Does Medicare cover home infusion?
A. The short answer is no, but the real answer is that certain therapies are covered when administered using durable medical equipment (a mechanical or electronic infusion pump). Only a select few therapies are covered and only under very specific conditions. These include antiviral therapies, some chemotherapies, some ionotropic therapies (i.e., dobutamine), and some pain management therapies. For more information, go to the Medicare web site and click on Your Medicare Coverage.
Q. What is the difference between my VITALine nurse and my home health nurse?
A. The VITALine nurse will contact the patient and/or caregiver at the start of care. They will do the initial teaching regarding home infusion therapy and will contact the patient and/or caregiver periodically throughout the course of the prescribed therapy.
The home health nurse visits the patient's home to assist with their therapy needs and continues teaching the patient and/or caregiver until they are independent in the infusion procedures. The home health nurse should be the first person the patient calls with questions regarding their therapy.
Q. Why can't I have a nurse come to my home to give me every dose of IV medication?
A. One reason home infusion began was to help patients to resume normal lifestyles and work activities while recovering from illness. Hospitals, home infusion pharmacy services and home health agencies worked hard over the years to accomplish this goal for the patient and their family. Having a nurse come into the home for each dose of medication would not accomplish the goal of independence and returning to as near normal lifestyle as possible. Therefore, patients who are discharged with home IV therapy need to become independent in these procedures.
Q. Why is my home health agency discharging me from services?
A. Home health agencies can only provide services to patients when they are homebound. When the patient returns to work or makes frequent visits outside the home, the home health agency is required by law to discontinue home nursing services.
Q. Why is it important to count my infusion supplies?
A. Counting your supplies allows the infusion pharmacy service to know if you are performing your home infusion therapies correctly. It also prevents the patient from receiving an over abundance of supplies.
Q. Do I get my wound care supplies from VITALine?
A. No. VITALine only supplies those items required for your home infusion therapy. If a home health agency is coming into your home for services, they may provide the wound care supplies to you. Otherwise, you will need to contact your insurance company to assist you regarding coverage through a durable medical supplier in your area.
Q. How often will I talk to someone from VITALine?
A. You will talk to VITALine personnel at the start of care and at least weekly if you are to receive IV medications. For those patients receiving monthly growth hormone, enteral formula/supplies or catheter care supplies, you will speak to VITALine personnel monthly. Also to assist you, a VITALine pharmacist, nurse and administrator are on call 24 hours a day.
Contact VITALine 7 Days a Week
Intake line Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5 pm: 800.527.6249
On call line: 800.245.8767