Sickle Cell: What Is Transition Of Care?

A microscopic image of sickle-shaped blood cellsTransition of care from pediatric to adult medicine has been recognized as a national priority by the Surgeon General in 1984 and later years by the Society of Adolescent Medicine as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What exactly is transition?

Transition of care is an active, planned and purposeful process that attends to the medical, psychosocial and educational/vocational needs of adolescents as they move from child to adult centered care.

Transition is not the same as transfer, or merely hand-off in the care of an individual. Since life expectancy in sickle cell disease has been extended in developed countries, transition of care became an important consideration. This issue is of paramount importance as studies have shown increase mortality in young adults with sickle cell disease shortly after transition. Therefore, many researchers are trying to improve the processes to minimize this risk.

As a patient or parent of someone with sickle cell disease, it is important to discuss with your doctor the essential aspects of transition of care and begin preparation as early as possible.

Due to lack of available hematologists to transition adult sickle cell care, it is worth partnering with your doctor to create a strategy that utilizes resources in your area or reaching out to other centers that have established programs. There is no one way to successfully transition care, but making it a priority has shown better than no preparation at all.