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Understanding Sickle Cell Disease, Complications, and Barriers to Care

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CE1016 | Contact Hours: 2


This activity aims to inform health care professionals about sickle cell disease and barriers to the treatment of a patient with sickle cell disease. After studying the content presented, you will be able to:

1. Define sickle cell disease.
2. Identify signs and symptoms of patients experiencing a sickle cell disease crisis.
3. Describe the course of treatment for sickle cell disease patients.
4. Describe adequate pain control management.
5. Identify barriers within the healthcare system for patients experiencing sickle cell disease.






Tia Wilson, BSN, RN


All learners must complete the entire activity and complete the evaluation to receive contact hours.


This nursing continuing professional development activity was approved by the Ohio Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. (OBN-001-91).

In addition to states that accept American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) courses, CE Leaders is an approved provider by the Florida Board of Nursing, and a registered provider with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, District of Columbia Board of Nursing, Georgia Board of Nursing, Kentucky Board of Nursing, New Mexico Board of Nursing, South Carolina Board of Nursing and West Virginia Board of Registered Nurses (Provider # 50-33450).


No one with the ability to control content of this activity has a relevant financial relationship with an ineligible company.


Sickle Cell Disease affects an estimated total of 70,000 to 100,000 Americans (1). It is a lifelong condition, starting from prenatal screening and birth. Through prenatal care and newborn screening, parents with sickle cell trait determine their chances of having children with sickle cell disease or passing on the sickle cell trait to their children. Health care professionals in nearly every setting have the potential to encounter patients with sickle cell disease, as these patients experience frequent hospitalizations and may require community medical care as they prepare for discharge. Adequate pain control management, crisis prevention, and infection control are some of the ongoing factors in their care. Proper understanding of sickle cell disease by families, caregivers, and health care professionals is essential to encourage health promotion and facilitate high-quality treatment for these patients.

Understanding the nature of sickle cell disease will assist health care professionals in better tailoring individualized care plans effective for treatment and prevention (of sickle cell crises). So, what is sickle cell disease, what causes it, and how can it affect the body?


1. Brennan-Cook J, Bonnabeau E, Aponte R, Augustin C, Tanabe P. Barriers to care for persons with sickle cell disease: The case manager's opportunity to improve patient outcomes. Professional case management. Available at Published July 1, 2019. Accessed May 19, 2022.

2. Borhade MB, Kondamudi NP. Sickle cell crisis - statpearls - NCBI bookshelf. National Library of Medicine. Available at Published November 7, 2021. Accessed May 19, 2022.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Sickle Cell Disease. [online] Available at Accessed May 18, 2022.

4. Clopton J. Sickle cell crisis: Symptoms, causes, treatment, prevention. WebMD. Available at Published August 11, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2022.

5. Experimental gene therapy reverses sickle cell disease for years. Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Available at Published December 13, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2022.

6. Healthline Editorial Team. Sickle cell anemia: Types, symptoms, and treatment. Healthline. Available at Published June 11, 2019. Accessed May 19, 2022.

7. 2022. Sickle Cell Disease. [online] Available at,the%20production%20of%20abnormal%20hemoglobin. Accessed May 18, 2022.

8. Hulihan M, Hassell KL, Raphael JL, Smith-Whitley K, Thorpe P. CDC Grand Rounds: Improving the lives of persons with sickle cell disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at,persons%20without%20SCD%20(2). Published November 22, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2022.

9. Kidwell K, Albo C, Pope M, et al. Characteristics of sickle cell patients with frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations. PLOS ONE. Available at Published February 22, 2021. Accessed May 19, 2022.

10. 2022. Sickle Cell Disease | Sickle Cell Anemia | MedlinePlus. [online] Available at Accessed May 18, 2022.

11. Neidler S. Oxygen therapy. Sickle Cell Disease News. Available at Published May 11, 2021. Accessed May 18, 2022.

12. Omoigui S. How to manage an acute pain crisis in sickle cell disease: Practical ... Practical Pain Management. Available at Published May 24, 2021. Accessed May 18, 2022.

13. Rankine-Mullings AE O-OS. Regular antibiotics for preventing pneumococcal infection in young children with sickle cell disease. Available at Published March 16, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2022.

14. 2022. Depression, Anxiety, and Sickle Cell Disease. [online] Available at Accessed May 22, 2022.

15. Sickle Cell Disease News. 2022. Hospital Readmissions High in Sickle Cell Patients, Study Shows. [online] Available at Accessed May 22, 2022.

16. Yolande DPF, Tufong KA, Jules TM, et al. osteomyelitis in children with sickle cell disease: A challenging diagnosis: Case report from Cameroon. Open Journal of Pediatrics. Available at Published April 28, 2021. Accessed May 18, 2022.

17. Zajac M. Bone marrow transplants for sickle cell disease. Sickle Cell. Available at Published February 2022. Accessed May 19, 2022.

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