New Guide for Improving Sickle Cell Disease Treatment in the ED Helps Close Disparity Gaps

Posted June 25, 2015 by NICHQ

NICHQ has long been committed to improving care for people with sickle cell disease (SCD). One of our core goals is to ensure the healthcare system effectively addresses the needs of all children and their families, and, since SCD disproportionally affects vulnerable populations, it presents a distinct opportunity to address disparities in health outcomes.

NICHQ Strategic Project Director Suzette Oyeku, MD, is featured in a recent Forbes article talking about disparities in how pain is treated among different ethnic groups in emergency department visits. Since SCD is characterized by unpredictable episodes of extreme pain, patients frequently seek acute care from emergency departments. Ensuring that patients receive timely, effective pain relief is one of the most important elements of delivering high quality care to individuals with SCD. However, patients often experience prolonged wait times for treatment. Delays are often due to systemic factors, such as the lack of a clear treatment protocol or limited provider experience in treating sickle cell disease-related pain, and the fact that the pain isn’t from an obvious source, like a broken arm.

These systemic factors led NICHQ to develop “Sickle Cell Pain in the Emergency Department: A Guide to Improving Care,” a step-by-step manual for anyone on the front lines of acute care, from emergency department doctors and nurses to hematology specialists.

“Sickle cell disease patients wait in excruciating pain longer than they have to for treatment. Guidelines do exist, but they have not been consistently implemented, particularly in acute care settings. Our guide was designed to help providers bridge this gap,” says Oyeku.

The guide, launched on World Sickle Cell Day, is the result of a five-year collaboration between 15 multidisciplinary healthcare provider teams nationwide. Throughout the process, teams traded lessons learned and best practices for improving treatment for adults and children with sickle cell disease in the emergency department.

Read a press release about the “Sickle Cell Pain in the Emergency Department: A Guide to Improving Care” guide or download it today.


To learn more about NICHQ's sickle cell disease work, visit the sickle cell disease section of our website.

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