Rafeeq “This bill will save lives.”

M. Razi Rafeeq, MD, a board-certified allergist and Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE) from Toledo, Ohio, recently testified before the Ohio House Education Committee in support of HB 296, legislation that allows schools to stock auto-injectable epinephrine to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis.

His efforts paid off. After both Ohio legislatures voted to approve HB 296, Gov. John Kasich signed it into law on April 21, 2014.

Dr. Rafeeq is a volunteer medical consultant for the Ohio legislature, educating lawmakers about anaphylaxis and answering questions about the use of epinephrine auto-injectors in schools.

“We all have a responsibility to help children with life-threatening allergies,” he says.

In addition to his advocacy work, Dr. Rafeeq recently collaborated with a local community hospital to update anaphylaxis treatment and follow-up procedures in emergency rooms (ER). He compiled two years of patient data to measure the extent to which ER management of anaphylaxis adhered to nationally recommended guidelines.

His findings, published in the World Allergy Organization Journal in 2013, were alarming: Only one-third of patients diagnosed with anaphylaxis were treated with epinephrine; and only one-third of those patients were discharged with a prescription for two epinephrine auto-injectors. None were referred to an allergist.

In response to the data, Dr. Rafeeq helped train the hospital’s ER staff to identify and treat anaphylaxis in accordance with national guidelines.

Patients’ electronic medical records now include questions such as “Consider referral to an allergist” and “Consider prescription for two epinephrine auto-injectors,” based on Dr. Rafeeq’s suggestions.

“When national and international guidelines for anaphylaxis treatment are followed, patients not only obtain immediate care, but also receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate follow-up care from an allergist to ensure the potential for future anaphylaxis is minimal,” he says.

From his advocacy work to making a difference in his community, Dr. Rafeeq calls his involvement with the ACE program “very rewarding.”

“You touch a lot of lives, and hopefully save lives by educating and empowering families, caregivers and the community,” he adds. “Anyone who has the expertise should consider volunteering.”

Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach partnership program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network in partnership with the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P.

– By Brenda M. Silvia-Torma, M.Ed

ACE1001ACE volunteers across the country offer free awareness and training programs about food, latex and venom allergies, signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Members include allergists, school nurses, community members and parents. Become an ACE member or request an anaphylaxis education presentation in your neighborhood! Click here,  email ace@allergyasthmanetwork.org or call 800.878.4403.