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NHS launches steroid emergency card to be carried by patients at risk of adrenal crisis

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Following four deaths and more than 300 incidents with steroid replacement therapy involving patients with adrenal insufficiency in the past two years, patients at risk of adrenal crisis will be issued with a steroid emergency card.

All adults with primary adrenal insufficiency (AI) will be issued an NHS steroid emergency card to support early recognition and treatment of adrenal crisis, a National Patient Safety Alert has said.

The cards will be issued by prescribers — including community pharmacists — from 18 August 2020.

AI is an endocrine disorder, such as Addison’s disease, which can lead to adrenal crisis and death if not identified and treated. Omission of steroids in patients with AI, particularly during physiological stress such as an additional illness or surgery, can also lead to an adrenal crisis.

The alert has requested that “all organisations that initiate steroid prescriptions should review their processes/policies and their digital systems/software and prompts to ensure that prescribers issue a steroid emergency card to all eligible patients” by 13 May 2021.

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Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal, 17 August 2020

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