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As individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) transition from pediatric to adult care and enter their 20’s and 30’s, they often begin to rely on emergency department (ED) care more often. One reason is that care becomes fragmented as this population gets older. Additionally, the disease process frequently becomes more severe with damage to the body’s organs over their life span.

Sickle Cell Disease affects millions globally and approximately 100,000 people in the United States, often with anemia, infections and others known complications. Pain crises are the number one reason for ED visits and hospitalizations. However, the care that is delivered in the ED is often cited by patients with SCD as the area of health care in greatest need of improvement. Why is it needed in the emergency department in particular?

Dr. Patricia Kavanagh explains this and more as she shares the National Institutes of Health’s guidelines and acute pain algorithm for sickle cell disease, discusses some of the methods that have been used both for children and adults and then highlights exciting work occurring across the country focused on improving care and treatment for people with sickle cell disease.