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Ask the Pharmacist: Don't Let a Bleeding Disorder Wreck Your Travel Plans

If you or someone in your family, has a bleeding disorder, you know that even the simplest accident can be a cause for major concern. Major developments in care and treatment have significantly improved quality of life. Most patients can now self-administer intravenous clotting factor with education and direction from a trained clinician – like Accredo bleeding disorder nurses – rather than going to a treatment center for each infusion.

“However, many medications have special treatment, storage and transportation requirements,” says Leslie Oygar, a clinical nurse liaison in the Accredo Bleeding Disorders Therapeutic Resource Center. “This means that traveling with a bleeding disorder, especially during the busy holiday season, can pose particular challenges.”

A few precautions can ensure that patients and their families can have a safe and healthy holiday travel season, she adds. Specialist nurses, like Oygar, in Accredo’s Therapeutic Resource Center, can help patients effectively manage their condition.

Here are a few tips for people with bleeding disorders to consider as they plan to travel:

  • Plan ahead: If traveling a long distance, make sure to discuss arrangements in advance with a physician or specialist pharmacist. Obtain emergency contact information for both the physician and pharmacy.

  • Be prepared: Not all hospitals carry clotting factor or the other medications used to treat bleeding disorders. Make sure to carry adequate clotting factor, other bleeding disorder medications, infusion supplies and, if possible, a few extra doses in the case of a significant bleed or trauma. Many insurance providers require prior notice to be able to authorize extra doses of medication. Allow 3-4 weeks to make sure you have all the approvals in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information about treatment centers in the U.S., as well as hematologists who can provide medical intervention at or near travel destinations, if necessary.

  • Keep your records current: If traveling for extended periods, make sure the specialty pharmacy has accurate information about how to contact you and where to ship the factor during the travel period.

  • Carry documentation: A letter from the hematologist is an important document of introduction and information for anyone treating the patient if medical intervention is necessary. This letter will also provide an emergency physician with treatment guidelines specific to the individual, and the contact information of the patient’s personal hematologist and nurse coordinator.

  • Know the rules: When using public transportation, whether air, bus, train, or anything else, call ahead to ask about requirements associated with traveling with needles, syringes and other medication administration equipment. Sharps boxes are usually acceptable even if they contain used syringes. If traveling by air, download and complete the TSA Notification Card 72 hours prior to air travel and contact TSA Cares at 855.787.2227 to help facilitate your trip through airport security.

  • Keep the original packaging: Keep all medications and supplies unopened and in the original boxes especially when traveling by air, which requires an inspection of carry-on bags or coolers if appropriate. Medications and equipment should be accompanied by a letter from the physician and carried by the patient while traveling. Wear a Medic Alert at all times – especially when traveling.

  • Store carefully: Mini-fridges in hotels and other accommodations can have poor temperature control, which increases the risk of freezing the factor. Be careful to store medications at the appropriate temperature.

For bleeding disorders patients traveling internationally, the World Federation of Hemophilia website can provide information about treatment centers outside the U.S. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

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