Deborah Palmer, Yasser El Miedany

British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 19, Iss. 8, 20 Apr 2010, pp 477 - 480

The extensive use of biological agents in recent years for the treatment of rheumatological diseases has required a steep learning curve for the specialist nurses who manage and work in this specialty. Safe prescribing of biological therapies requires good infrastructure and specialist nursing personnel. With additional training, the specialist nurse may take responsibility for a number of tasks in the patient pathway including screening, treatment administration, patient education, prescription coordination for home drug delivery, patient support, monitoring and data collection. Biological treatment is becoming more widely used in several specialities, in particular gastroenterology, dermatology and ophthalmology. Since 2002, rheumatology specialist nurses have taken the lead in assessment and providing biologic therapy, not only for patients suffering from rheumatic diseases but also for those with immune-mediated inflammatory disorders. The unique nature and variable safety profiles of these agents led to the development of immune-mediated inflammatory disease infusion (IMID) centres and highlighted the importance of having biological specialist nurses. This article will discuss the evolution of the IMID/biologic specialist nurse role and how IMID services started with goodwill from the rheumatology nurse specialists to develop into a main component of the holistic approach to care.

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