Background: The anaesthetic allergy clinic has been established at our institution for 30 years. Our practice has been to give patients a letter detailing the results of their investigations to pass on to subsequent anaesthetists. Our aims were to assess the adequacy of this letter in ensuring this vital communication, and to quantify the effectiveness of our recommendations on the safety of future anaesthesia. Methods: A project was undertaken to contact 606 previous clinic patients living in New South Wales by using last known addresses on our database, public telephone listing and local doctors. The review also involved collecting information, where available, about subsequent anaesthesia and the adequacy of information transfer about medications given safely or otherwise at this time. Results: Of 606 patients, 246 were contactable. Of these, 183 had been anaesthetised subsequently, all safely. It was found that in only 11 cases had the patient's clinic letter been updated with the information from subsequent anaesthesia. We updated the letters of 82 patients with new information to improve the safety of drug selection for future anaesthesia. Conclusions: Although clinic testing allowed a high degree of safety in subsequent anaesthesia, it is evident that there is a need for systems to be implemented to improve the flow of patient anaesthetic allergy information after subsequent anaesthesia.
Intensive Care Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia 2:
Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, Royal North Shore Hospital of Sydney, Sydney, Australia