Traveling with Hemophilia
By: Trudie Mitschang and Candy Finley, RN | Aug, 2017 | Download Article |
Having a hemophilia diagnosis need not limit your ability to travel by air this summer, but it does call for extra precautions and safety tips.
Air travel is stressful and often unpredictable. For patients with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, stress levels can be even higher. The good news is, with proper planning, you can avoid vacation-spoiling emergencies and safely enjoy your time away, even during the hectic summer travel season. In addition to all the normal parts of planning for a trip, you'll want to take time to prepare in advance for everything impacted by your hemophilia. Although it might not be fun, think about what could go wrong and plan accordingly. One of the first things you'll want to consider is what to pack in your carry-on. Here are some considerations to help you pack the right supplies:
- The type and severity of the bleeding disorder
- The climate in the departure and arrival cities
- The type of bleeds the person with the bleeding disorder typically experiences
- The length of time you will be away from home
- Your destination (Will you be in a developed or developing country? Is there is a hemophilia treatment center nearby?)
- Your accommodations (hotel, motel, youth hostel, cabin or campsite)
It can also be helpful to anticipate what might happen if your flight is delayed or cancelled, and plan accordingly. Individuals with ports will also need to pack disinfectants to be used prior to infusions, and sterile saline and/or heparin for flushing the port after an infusion. In addition, travelers with inhibitors and those with HIV, hepatitis C or other conditions will need to pack additional medications and supplies.
Candy Finley, RN, Nufactor Clinical Nurse Educator, advises patients to always carry their own treatment products, treatment equipment, and pharmaceutical drugs. "Carrying your own supplies will allow you to present them quickly to security and customs, if requested," she explains. "Remember, there are risks of loss, breakage, and of temperature variations potentially affecting treatment products if stowed in the aircraft hold."
Finley offers these additional travel tips:
- You should wear your medical identification information at all times.
- You should always carry your own treatment products and treatment equipment with you.
- Bring a letter for TSA/security staff, explaining why you are carrying treatment products, prescribed drugs, needles, syringes ,tourniquets, gauzes, Band-Aids, CVC Kits and etc., and explain the serious implications of not having them immediately at hand.
- When traveling by air, always bring a carry-on containing your own treatment products and treatment equipment. This allows you to present them quickly to security and customs, if requested.
- Bring a letter from your treating doctor with information about your bleeding condition, and the usual treatment you receive. You may require assistance in treating yourself, so this information is important.
- Bring a letter to present to customs, if requested, to explain why you are carrying treatment products, prescribed drugs, needles, and syringes.
- Check your medical insurance in advance of departure as you may need extra time to deal with pre-existing conditions.
- You may wish to write in advance to hemophilia centers in the country you are visiting to inquire about the availability of treatment products and medical expenses, if treatment is required while traveling.
- If treatment is required while traveling, telephone the treatment center, using the numbers listed in the WFH's Passport Directory, before seeking treatment.
- National hemophilia organizations can also be a source of assistance if needed while traveling. These are also listed in WFH's Passport Directory.
Source: World Foundation of Hemophilia 2012
Traveling with a bleeding disorder may take a bit more preparation and planning, but the joys of time off with family and friends far outweigh the inconvenience. Just be sure to pack your insurance card and make sure your insurance covers you in the state or country where you'll be traveling. If traveling overseas, check that your insurance covers medical evacuation in case of an emergency.
You can learn more about traveling safely with medications from the TSA website at www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/what-expect-if-passenger-needs-medication.
The information provided on this website is not medical advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with questions concerning a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it based on information provided on this website.