What types of diseases do infusions and injections treat?
Provider-administered medications (like infusions or injections) are used to treat complex, chronic illnesses, like autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, mineral or vitamin deficiencies, or to treat infection in people whose immune systems don't work correctly. Infusions and injections can also be used to treat short-term conditions like cancer, or serious infections that don’t respond to antibiotic pills.
Examples of autoimmune diseases treated with infusion/injection include:
Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), lupus, and more.
Maybe. If you are sick, you should call your infusion clinic care team to ask them if you can still receive your medicine. Some treatments are given to help your immune system, and others may need to wait until you are healthy.
Examples of symptoms that might delay your infusion or injection include: cough, cold, flu, fever, rash (including shingles), sores or cuts that won't heal, viral infections, and bacterial infections.
Should I contact my infusion clinic if I have surgery scheduled?
Absolutely. You should always discuss any health update or event with your care team. Health events include surgeries, illness, dental procedures, hospitalization, changes in medication, pregnancy, etc. Some treatments might need to be delayed depending on the type of surgery. Telling your infusion clinic care team will ensure that you are healthy and able to recover from your surgery.
Can I receive treatment if I am pregnant or trying to become pregnant?
If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or may want to have children soon, your care team may recommend you take or avoid certain medications. You should let your care team know that you are planning a pregnancy or if you have become pregnant and discuss your options with them.
Help, my insurer denied my treatment!
It is not uncommon for infusion/injection medications to be denied the first time, and your prescribing care team should be able to help you through an appeals process that asks the insurance company to reconsider their denial. The appeals process can be frustrating, but don’t give up! If you are having trouble, please use our contact us form.
How should I prepare for my treatment?
IAF has you covered! Whether it is your first appointment or just a new-to-you medicine, our “How to Prepare for your Infusion or Injection” video will help you show up for your treatment as a pro!
If you are having an infusion, we recommend drinking extra non-caffeinated beverages a day or two before your appointment to be sure you’re hydrated—this will make your veins easier to find.
I am having side effects from my treatment, HELP!
Please contact your care team to discuss your symptoms and whether they are typical. Many side effects are expected and might even be a sign that the medicine is working. Your care team might be able to give you extra medicine to help make you more comfortable. If you experience a serious or severe reaction during or after your treatment, your care team may want to discuss options before continuing treatment.
What should I wear on treatment day?
Most importantly, you will want to wear comfy clothes (you may be there for a few hours) and dress in layers.
Make sure the skin on your arms is easily accessible for your IV or injection.
If you are receiving an injection, try to wear loose-fitting clothing that won’t bother the injection site.
For infusions, you may want to wear close-toed shoes and socks if your feet get cold easily. You may feel a slight chill since the infusion is colder than your body temperature.
What should I pack for treatment day?
Bring something to keep yourself occupied during your treatment, like a book, tablet, laptop, or game. Check with your infusion center to see what amenities they offer. Some even have Netflix available for you to enjoy!
See our packing list for more recommendations.
What if I need to miss work because of my infusion?
IAF knows that treatment can conflict with your work schedule and cause stress and worry. Try searching for clinics that have extended hours in the mornings, evenings, and weekends using the National Infusion Center Association Infusion Center Locator™ so you can receive your medicine without missing work.
We know many people might not be ready to be open about their disease with their employers. If this is you, just use your normal process for requesting time off. Like any time-off request, best practices include requesting at least two weeks before your scheduled treatment day and notifying your supervisor if your plans need to change.
If you are open about your condition with your employer, you can consider highlighting the importance of your treatment and the recommended schedule. Other options include discussing a reasonable accommodation with your human resources department.
How do I travel as an infusion patient?
First, contact your insurance company using the phone number on the back of your insurance card to find out if your treatment will be covered at another location (like a clinic at your travel destination). Use the National Infusion Center Association Infusion Center Locator™ to help you find a new clinic.
If your insurance will cover treatment in a different setting, contact the provider that orders your infusions to help coordinate and schedule your treatment while traveling.
If your insurance will not cover treatment in a different setting, contact your care team to discuss your options.
How do I pay for my infusion or injection treatment? What if I can’t afford this medicine?
Many companies who make these medicines offer patient assistance programs. Different rules apply to patient assistance programs, so we recommend doing an internet search for your [medicine name] and “patient assistance program”.You may need to go through a screening process to determine if you qualify for the program. If you don’t qualify for assistance, please use our contact us form so we can help you find private foundations that may be able to help with costs.
What if I live in a rural or remote area and need infusion therapy?
IAF realizes that people who live in rural areas may need to travel long distances to receive their treatments. We recommend using the National Infusion Center Association Infusion Center Locator™ to see if you have an infusion center closer to where you live or work. The next step is to call the phone number on the back of your insurance card to see if the clinic closer to you is in-network.
The AirCare Alliance volunteers free flights when certain people need to access medical services. There is no limit on the number of flights that you can take to get your treatment. They do have a couple of requirements.
You need to live more than 2 hours by car away from your treatment site but no more than 1,000 miles away.
You must be physically able to get in and out of a small aircraft with little assistance (similar to getting into a large SUV).
These flights do not provide medical support during the fight.
You will need to provide some documentation from your provider that you have a medical condition and need this service.
If you need to drive a long distance, ask if someone can carpool with you to your treatment. Some people find that posting about their treatment journey on their private Facebook or Instagram page encourages family and friends to share their own experiences and treatment journeys. A post may be able to connect you with fellow patients who are traveling to the same clinic.
If it is your first time receiving treatment and you have a long distance to drive, you may want to plan to stay overnight in a hotel until you know how your treatment will affect you.
Some private foundations may help with the cost of transportation for your treatment. The best way to find them is to do an internet search with the name of your diagnosis and “patient financial help”.They may even cover the cost of a hotel room to stay the night for your treatment.
Sometimes, your insurance plan will allow you to go to an out-of-network location if you can prove that traveling a very long distance makes it too difficult to access treatment. Usually, this means an hour of driving or more each way. You can contact us for assistance writing a letter to your insurance company.
Can I bring my service animal to my treatment?
Usually, yes. Service animals are allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We recommend calling your infusion clinic before your appointment to ask about any restrictions.
The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that has been specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. Staff can ask two questions: (1) is the service dog required because of a disability? and (2) what specific action or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Staff can deny access to emotional support animals because they are not protected by the ADA.
Staff cannot ask about the nature of your disability, require documentation for the dog, or ask the dog to demonstrate its task.
To learn more about the ADA, service animals. and infusion centers, including when infusion centers can restrict access to service animals and how to file a complaint, visit the ADA service animal website
Do I need to stop my blood thinner before my infusion?
Most likely not, but it is always best to speak to your care team before stopping any medication-- especially blood thinners. Blood thinners are usually stopped before invasive procedures to reduce bleeding, but the hole from the IV is so small that significant bleeding isn’t expected. People taking blood thinners may bruise more easily at the IV site after it is removed; raising your arm so it is higher than your heart and holding pressure on the site for several minutes after the IV is removed can help minimize this.
Should I call my care team if my skin is reacting to the IV?
Mild soreness and slight bruising at the IV site is normal following an infusion; the bruise may even turn many different colors as it heals, including blue, purple, brown, yellow or green!
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms at your IV site (or any spots where an IV was unsuccessfully inserted), you should contact your care team right away:
Numbness, tingling, or an “electric shock” sensation in your arm (including your hand and fingers)
Redness, warmth, pain, swelling, or drainage
Will continued IV treatment damage my veins? Do I need to rotate my IV sites?
Veins can become damaged from repeated needle pokes and infusions, but clinicians help reduce this by placing the smallest IV catheter in the biggest vein. Many patients receive infusions for years (even decades), using the same trusty vein with no problems. Other patients’ veins are more fragile and IV sites need to be rotated more often.
I need a dental procedure. Do I need to wait for a certain period of time?
Possibly. Dental health is part of your overall health, so you should always discuss any health updates or procedures with your care team at the infusion center and follow their guidance.