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Anaphylaxis in the allergist's office: Preparing your office and staff for medical emergencies

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All allergists who administer subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) experience anaphylaxis in their offices and must devote proper planning, preparation, and practice to ensure that all staff members recognize the early signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and can respond appropriately. Educating staff and patients, preparing an anaphylaxis emergency cart, developing and following selection criteria for SCIT and high-risk procedures, and customizing an “Action Plan for Anaphylaxis Management” create the foundation for mounting an adequate response to anaphylaxis. Strategies to prevent near-fatal and fatal reactions include (1) avoiding, when possible, the administration of SCIT to patients on beta-blockers; (2) using a preinjection questionnaire to review changes in the patient's medical condition, e.g., episodes of asthma since the previous injection; (3) using standardized forms and procedures for SCIT; (4) one might also consider an objective measure of airway function (e.g., peak flow measurement) for the asthmatic patient before allergy injections; (5) insisting on a 30-minute waiting time after SCIT; and (6) giving consideration to prescribing a dual-pack epinephrine autoinjector to all SCIT patients. Treatment of anaphylaxis should start with epinephrine administered intramuscularly at the first sign of anaphylaxis. Oxygen and i.v. fluids may be needed for moderate-to-severe anaphylaxis or anaphylaxis that is quickly developing or unresponsive to the first injection of epinephrine. Emergency medical services should be called for all patients who are experiencing moderate-to-severe (grade 2 or higher) anaphylaxis, if they require more than 1 dose of epinephrine and/or i.v. fluids, or if they do not immediately respond to treatment.

Keywords: Allergy immunotherapy; Auvi-Q; EpiPen; allergy skin testing; anaphylaxis; anaphylaxis action plan; asthma; beta-blockers; emergency cart; epinephrine; epinephrine autoinjector; intramuscular epinephrine; shock; subcutaneous immunotherapy; systemic reaction

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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