June 1, 2020

Craigieburn Centre Rapid Access Iron Infusion Clinic

Over the last year, Craigieburn Centre has ramped up their Rapid Access Iron Infusion Clinic.

The pilot project, which started in late 2018, is targeted at reducing waiting times for patients in need of an iron infusion.

The clinic keeps four chairs in the Craigieburn Day Medical Unit available – two of those chairs are used for referrals from Northern Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED).

“One of the key benefits is that it helps free up the Short Stay Unit in ED. Our aim is to get the patient in as quickly as possible, so we book an appointment and it’s all done in a very quick time frame. Then they come in, have their haematology appointment and then go straight around and have their infusion,” said Carol Northmore, Craigieburn Centre Site Operations Manager.

Dr Teresa Leung, Consultant Haematologist, has been leading the project. Dr Leung reviews the two patients referred from ED, and fills the other two chairs with patients who are referred from the community to the haematology service with iron deficiency anaemia.

She says the motivation behind the rapid-access clinic was to improve patient experience and assist community members to receive their iron infusions quicker. Previously, GP’s would send a referral and it would be triaged as per clinical urgency so that would mean certain patients could wait up to three months to see a doctor and afterwards would go on another waiting list to receive their infusion. Sometimes patients would be upset as they would come in for their appointment expecting to receive their infusion on the same day, and some of these patients would end up presenting to ED in distress.

“Part of the aim of this service is to re-direct patients who end up in the ED to Craigieburn quickly to have their infusion,” Dr Leung said.

“Secondly, we aim to shorten that period of waiting time between getting seen and getting the iron infusion. So far the feedback we have has been excellent in that it helps to improve patient experience and relieve some of the bed pressure in ED,” Dr Leung said.

“I think the project has been quite successful – it meets patient’s needs and is very patient-focused which is great. A research poster was developed on the project and displayed at Research Week,” Carol said.

The project success has been a collaborative effort of many different teams coming together to help ensure the smooth running of the clinic, from medical staff to nursing, pharmacy and administrative staff across both Craigieburn Centre and Northern Hospital. Although the clinic only runs one day per week, there is a lot of planning and work done in preparation so the flow is seamless on the day, and Enrolled Nurse, Lindy Weir, plays a key role in patient coordination and liaison.

Furthermore, as an initiative to promote patient education, the team have also developed information packs for patients containing written materials on oral iron supplements to assist them once they go home.

“People become iron deficient from a number of causes but there is often a dietary component to it. So we’ve developed an information pack which our day medical staff use to educate patients on iron rich foods, as well as how to take their iron tablets properly. We try to make their journey more fruitful than just coming in for their infusion and then walking away,” Dr Leung said.

“It’s been a good piece of work and we’d loved to see it expand. The staff got on board really quickly and have been very helpful and really engaged,” Carol said.

“Thank you to all the staff who have embraced this new challenge!” Dr Leung added.

Dr Teresa Leung (second from left) and Carol Northmore (second from right) with the team