“When treating anaphylaxis, every second counts,” says Fatima Khan, MD, board-certified allergist with Altru Health System in Grand Forks, North Dakota. “I tell parents to give epinephrine right away and head to the hospital. When they arrive, they should tell the staff, ‘My child is experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction and needs to be seen right away.’”
Dr. Khan, who serves as an Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE) volunteer for Allergy & Asthma Network, brings her passion for anaphylaxis awareness to hospital staff, too. She recently conducted anaphylaxis preparedness training for nursing staff, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and allied health professionals.
Soon after the training, an oncology nurse in the cancer center saw signs of a severe allergic reaction in a patient. Anaphylaxis can also occur in cancer patients taking chemotherapy medications, immunoglobulin infusions or biologic agents. The nurse remembered Dr. Khan’s instructions and quickly administered epinephrine. Instead of having to be admitted to the hospital due to possible complications, the patient was monitored and eventually discharged.
Earlier in 2015, Dr. Khan collaborated with hospital nurses to develop an Anaphylaxis Treatment Order Set, which details appropriate steps to treat a severe allergic reaction. Altru Health System implemented the policy hospital-wide.
“Without an approved order set, hospital nurses are not authorized to administer epinephrine without a doctor’s approval,” she says. “It’s essential that every hospital have one in place. Patients experiencing anaphylaxis need to be immediately treated with epinephrine – regardless of where they are.”
Does your community hospital have an anaphylaxis treatment policy in place? Talk with your allergist so you’re prepared for emergency situations.
Written by Brenda Silvia-Torma, MEd, ACE Program Manager
Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network in partnership with the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, sponsored by Mylan Specialty L.P.
ACE volunteer teams 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. Teams include allergists, school nurses, community members and parents.