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Nurse Alert: Education Regarding HPV

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I had the unfortunate experience of having to spend Christmas night in the Emergency Room with concerns regarding numerous lumps I had found in my calves.

While this isn’t the way anyone would choose to spend an evening, let alone Christmas in the ER, my HPV-related cancer history and more importantly my treatment involving chemotherapy, predisposes me to the development of blood clots in the legs.

If even a small fragment of the marble-sized lumps breaking off and making its way to my heart or lungs would have resulted in a significant medical crisis, or worse yet if an entire clot had become dislodged, I wouldn’t be here today writing this article.

In erring on the side of caution my doctor advised that I go to the Emergency Room so at least we could rule out that these were indeed blood clots.

It became quite apparent as the nurse was taking his intake notes just how little he knew about HPV, especially when it came to the significant number of cancers resulting from the virus. When I have come across articles in nursing publications they make the fatal flaw of all too often limiting the focus to cervical cancer alone.

It is especially important that not only doctors, but nurses as well, become more educated of the extensive nature, including the epidemiology and vaccine information, for HPV. Nurses and even nurse practitioners oftentimes have more interaction with the patient than the doctor and it typically becomes one of their responsibilities to educate and counsel patients in general.

HPV continuing-medical-education courses have been in existence for many years now, and are a requirement in most states. Nurses need to contact their individual state nursing licensing boards and request that this subject be included in the many courses offerings already in existence.

Unfortunately in my communications with HPV patients, it has often been the nurse who has given incorrect information to the patient with respect to HPV. Some of that information could have resulted in severe consequences to the patient. As a registered nurse myself, I believe we have a responsibility to be as knowledgeable as we can on this subject. Not only do we owe it to ourselves, but we owe it to our patients even more.

Incidentally, my ultrasound revealed erythema nodosum and not blood clots. So while this potential continues to be an ongoing concern, at least I have peace of mind ... for now.


"State-Required Continuing Education Credit | CEU for Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Paramedic/EMT | Wild Iris Medical Education | WildIrisMedicalEducation.com." Nursing Continuing Education | CEU for Nurses | NursingCEU.com | Wild Iris Medical Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2011. http://www.nursingceu.com/courses/curriculum_mand.html

"Nurse shares journey with HPV, cancer - KC Nursing News Story - Kansas City." Home - KC Community News. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2011. http://www.kccommunitynews.com/kc-nursing-news/26495345/detail.html

Bonnie Diraimondo is a registered nurse with experience in both national and international speaking on the subject of HPV. She is also an author, freelance writer and expert of the topic of HPV. She maintains a website and interactive forum at www.thehpvsupportnetwork.org

Reviewed December 26, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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