Treating a bleeding disorder at home through self-infusion is convenient, safe and effective if you pay close attention to proper storage of factor products and correctly dispose of items like needles and syringes.
Follow these home therapy basics to ensure your routine is safe and sound.
1. Keep track of factor and supplies
Knowing how much factor and infusion supplies you have on hand ensures you know when you need to order more, without worrying about running out. Each time a shipment of factor arrives, check the contents and make sure the order is correct and that nothing’s missing or broken. Write the expiration date of the new factor supply down in your infusion log.
2. Store factor correctly
Improperly stored or expired factor may not treat and prevent bleeding as expected. To ensure factor can do its job, follow all storage directions included with your medicine. (Different medications may have slightly different instructions.) If you have questions, call your HTC or the factor manufacturer’s toll-free patient help line, which is printed in the written materials that come with factor. Most factor products are stable at room temperature for a limited amount of time, so generally factor needs to be refrigerated. The safest method is to store it in a dedicated refrigerator. If that’s not possible, place the medication in a covered container or resealable plastic bag and put it in the middle of the refrigerator (don’t store it in the door). Keep the factor label and instructions in the bag or container with the medicine so it’s always handy.
Remember: Once factor has been removed from the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature for infusion, don’t put it back into the refrigerator. Plan infusions so the factor is used when ready.
3. Follow safety precautions
To prevent infection, keep your infusion work area clean. Wash your hands and arms using warm water and soap or an alcohol-based cleaner before and after the infusion. Wear gloves during your infusion and also when you throw away supplies after the infusion.
4. Safely dispose of supplies
If stored correctly, factor should not have to be thrown out. If your factor is damaged or expired, contact your local pharmacy to find out how to properly dispose of it. (Medication disposal laws vary by state and community.)
When finished with an infusion, put the supplies—empty factor and diluent vials, syringe, IV tubing and needle—in a dedicated sharps container. When this container is full, check with your community waste collection agency to learn how to properly dispose of it.
5. When traveling…
Factor shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperature swings so, generally, putting it in an insulated bag with ice packs to keep it cool will ensure it’s safe. When traveling by airplane, factor and infusion supplies should always be carried on with you rather than checked. Double-check with your hematologist or the staff at your HTC about the best way to properly store and transport factor products while on the go.