The term anaphylaxis refers to a severe systemic allergic reaction involving either respiratory difficulty or a drop in blood pressure. In the most severe cases acute upper airways obstruction, bronchospasm or shock with vascular collapse can occur and this can be life threatening if emergency treatment is not administered rapidly. Other symptoms may include urticaria or angioedema. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by many different stimuli including food, insect stings and medicinal compounds, particularly if the drug is given intravenously.
The Allergy Group considered all the facts about medicines allergies when considering the groups main aim of trying to reduce the impact medicine allergies have on the public. The promotion of medicine allergies to increase the public awareness of its importance was seen as the major route to empowering patients to inform health care professionals of any known allergies.
The group worked with a few community pharmacies in Devon and Cornwall to run a pilot of an awareness campaign which involved a store poster promotion and pharmacist intervention with each antibiotic prescription. The intervention by the pharmacist consisted of a few simple questions to investigate if the patient had a history of allergies and if they did the pharmacist would then confirm this with the patients GP. Once the patients' allergy status was confirmed the pharmacist supplied an Allergy Matters card detailing the allergy that the patient could keep on their person. The Allergy Matters campaign material is available on the Devon LPC website and can be printed for use in healthcare settings as an awarenedd promotion.
The small pilot reported that patient feedback was very positive about the campaign materials and patient-held card. It also showed patients had a poor understanding of medicines allergies.
Details of the campaign have been shared with the National Patient Safety Agency and a further roll out across the South West in both primary and secondary care is currently being discussed.
Posted Friday May 8th 2009
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