When you’re undergoing IVIG treatment, it’s important to understand IVIG administration and each step of the process. If you know what to expect ahead of time, it will eliminate a lot of stress and allow things to go as smoothly as possible. Your doctor may follow slightly different procedures, but below are some of the most common situations and suggestions for dealing with them.
Your Responsibilities as a Patient
Before everything else, you should understand your responsibilities before, during, and after the procedure. You are, after all, the one in control. Exactly how the IVIG treatment process proceeds will be dictated by how you feel. As the patient, it will be up to you maintain a close and honest relationship with your doctor and other caregivers.
Your main responsibilities will be to cooperate as best you can, follow their instructions, and maintain an open and honest line of communication. Always let them know if there is anything you need or don’t understand. You should tell them immediately about any problems or issues that arise, especially those that might affect the course of your treatment.
Doctor or Nurse Responsibilities
Above all, safety should be the priority for any doctor or nurse whether they are administering IVIG treatment or educating a patient about infusions. The prescriber’s orders should be followed carefully, with any problems addressed and fully resolved before the infusion.
Assessments Before IVIG Administration
Before beginning the IVIG infusion, your nurse will look at several factors to help minimize any problems, discomfort or adverse effects and make sure you have a successful IVIG infusion experience.
- Assess whether the IVIG product is appropriate for the patient. There are different types of IVIG products, which are NOT interchangeable. Your nurse will first check to make sure the present product is suitable for your particular case.
- Assess the integrity of the IVIG product. Like any other medication, the nurse will check to make sure that the product is fully intact, no seals have been broken, and it has not been tampered with.
- Check that the IVIG product is at the right temperature. The immunoglobulin solution should be at room temperature when it is administered.
- Check that the patient understands IVIG therapy. The nurse will check with the patient to make sure they understand the purpose of the therapy and what will be involved in the process.
- Check the patient’s general health and hydration level. The nurse should assess whether or not the patient is in a healthy state and properly hydrated. Any problems with health should be communicated to the prescriber. If the patient does not seem to be fully hydrated, this should be remedied before the infusion begins.
- Check for any variation in weight. IVIG therapy prescriptions are based on the weight of the patient. Any significant change in weight could mean that the prescription would need to be adjusted.
- Check heart rate and respiratory status. IVIG therapy can cause a fluid overload in patients with congestive heart failure. Their heart and respiratory status must be checked before and during infusion to avoid potential problems.
- Check the patient for signs of fever. If a patient has a fever, the prescriber should be contacted and consulted for instructions. Depending on condition, the infusion may need to be postponed until the fever subsides.
- Assess the need for pre-medications. If a patient has had any issues during previous infusions, the prescriber should be consulted for instructions to see if pre-medications may be necessary to help ensure a successful infusion.
- Determine if there is a need for anesthesia. Some patients, especially children, may wish to receive local anesthesia to numb the sites where needles or catheters will be placed.
- Assess emergency preparedness. The nurse will make sure that all emergency equipment is functional and nearby as well as make sure there are clear communication channels for reaching both the prescribing doctor as well as emergency services such as 911.
- Assess the need for blood work before starting the infusion. Blood must be drawn prior to an IVIG infusion if it is needed for monitoring purposes. The nurse should go over any previous blood work with the patient as well as make sure that regular blood tests are being carried out as expected.
- Assess the patient’s experience with prior IVIG infusions. Last, but not least, the nurse should ask the patient about previous experiences and what they expect to happen. Patients, children especially, may have routines they are used to that help them get through the experience with fewer issues. Nurses should try to follow these routines whenever possible.
Assessment During IVIG Administration
During the administration of the IVIG therapy, infusion, the nurse will monitor the patient’s general status and make sure that the infusion is being tolerated. This will involve asking basic questions about how you feel as well as monitoring vital signs for any changes. At this point, as the patient, there isn’t much more to do other than wait for the process to finish.
Assessments After IVIG Administration
After the infusion has been completed, the nurse will generally check on a few things that will allow him or her to assess how well you’ve tolerated the infusion and what could be done to improve your experience during the next one.
- Check for problems related to the infusion. The nurse will check for any problems occurring immediately after the infusion that may have been caused by it, such as headaches, fever or rashes. In some cases, changes to the infusion protocols might be suggested to provide some relief in the future.
- Assess the need for future infusions and discuss with the patient. The nurse should inform the patient of upcoming IVIG therapy sessions and their responsibility according to what has been ordered by the prescribing doctor.
The Typical IVIG Infusion
IVIG therapy typically consists of a dose between 400 and 500 milligrams per kilogram of weight, given every three to four weeks. The majority of patients tolerate the procedure well and experience little to no adverse effects.
Individual patients may get better results with a more personalized infusion regimen, just as some people respond better to one IVIG product over another. Once you and your doctor have decided on an infusion regimen that works for you, it’s important to stick with it and follow your doctor’s orders. If you have questions about IVIG administration, IVIG therapy, or the IVIG infusion process, you should talk with your doctor.