Steroid Emergency Cards for patients with adrenal insufficiency

National Patient Safety Alert

An alert has been issued by NHS Improvement and NHS England national patient safety team, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Physicians and Society for Endocrinology, regarding the introduction of a Steroid Emergency Card to support the early recognition and treatment of adrenal crisis in adults.

Why is this important for our patients?

The omission of steroids for patients with primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency can lead to adrenal crisis; a medical emergency which if left untreated can be fatal. If these patients become acutely ill or are subject to major body stressors, such as from trauma or surgery, they require higher doses of steroids to prevent an adrenal crisis.

While substantial resources exist, clinical staff are not always aware of the risk of adrenal crisis, or the correct clinical response should one occur.

The solution

A patient-held Steroid Emergency Card was launched to help healthcare staff identify patients with adrenal insufficiency and provide information on emergency treatment if the patient is acutely ill, experiences trauma, surgery, or other major stressors.

All patients with primary adrenal insufficiency are steroid dependent and some patients, who take oral, inhaled, or topical steroids for other medical conditions, may develop secondary adrenal insufficiency and become steroid dependent.

The national database has identified eligible patients who have been contacted by our practice. Eligible patients can collect a Steroid Emergency Card from any community pharmacy or download and print it by clicking on this image: