Adrenal insufficiency affects between 150-280 people per million, and can lead to a life-threatening adrenal crisis if not treated properly. Yet, this is a relatively unknown condition amongst both health professionals and the general public.

Why the cards are needed

In 2020 a new steroid emergency card was released by the NHS to support the treatment of people having an adrenal crisis. These cards contain space for someone to write their emergency details down, information about adrenal crisis and a QR code to inform medical professionals in how to deal with an emergency. The results from our 2021 patient care survey show that many people are not getting the care they need when having an adrenal crisis. Ensuring that everyone who needs one has a steroid emergency card is one small step to improve patient care during an adrenal crisis.

“Carrying a steroid emergency card is a great way to keep you safe if you have adrenal insufficiency. If you do go into adrenal crisis then you can present the card to medical professionals and they can use the information to ensure that you get the right care.”

Darshna Patel, Endocrine Specialist Nurse at The Pituitary Foundation and Watford General Hospital

Who needs a card

The NHS guidelines state that everyone who has adrenal insufficiency or is steroid dependent should carry the steroid emergency card. It is credit card sized so can be stored in your purse or wallet, and we also have a downloadable version to add to your mobile phone.

Getting a card

There are 3 ways of obtaining a card:

  • Through community pharmacies- please let them know you have had the relevant patient education and are aware of sick day rules. You may wish to show a clinical letter or similar but that is not essential. If you lose your card the community pharmacy team can also provide a replacement.
  • Your GP when having your next routine review if they are the lead professional managing your steroid replacement care plan.
  • Hospital teams at your next appointment.

To summarise:

  • Everyone with adrenal insufficiency or who is dependent on steroids needs a steroid emergency card.
  • You can get them from your GP, pharmacy or hospitals.
  • The card can help you to get the right care when having an adrenal crisis.