In scleroderma, rheumatology nurses essential to treat the ‘whole patient’
ORLANDO — Rheumatology nurses are necessary for helping to care for “the whole patient” with scleroderma, including its various manifestations and impacts on the patients’ social, mental, personal and physical health, according to Benjamin D. Korman, MD, of the University of Rochester.
“You have to think of the scleroderma patient as having multiple different issues going on, and often in my 20-minute follow-up appointment, I don’t have time to take care of all those things,” Korman told attendees at the 2019 Rheumatology Nurses Society Annual Conference. “Having a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant is very helpful in dealing with some of the other issues that are happening in the lives of the scleroderma patient.”
According to Korman, while physicians are often limited by their schedule to focus on the most serious organ-disease manifestations of scleroderma and their required treatments, nurses can assist patients with a host of other issues that arise from the disease, including fatigue, pain, itching, depression and poor self-esteem, poor sexual health and an overall decrease in the patient’s quality of life.
“There are issues related to pain and fatigue, and disability related to skin disease, in addition to mental health, itching and quality of life issues,” he said. “These are things that all of our patients deal with to varying levels. While I’m often thinking about the next treatment modality, and trying to address five different organ systems, there are all these different issues that the patient is dealing with on a personal level that we need to think about.”
“One of the areas in which nurses and physician assistants are essential in scleroderma is addressing the various manifestations of the disease impacting quality of life,” he added. “They can help by working in some of these domains and treat the whole patient, and not just, ‘Do they need an immunomodulator?’” – by Jason Laday
Korman BD. Updates and therapy for scleroderma. Presented at: Rheumatology Nurses Society Annual Conference; Aug. 7-10, 2010; Orlando, Florida.
Disclosure: Korman reports no relevant financial disclosures.