Target: Dr. Tom Frieden, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Goal: Implement guidelines to improve emergency room care for severe allergic reactions
For people with severe allergies, something like a sting from a bee or a trace of peanut butter can trigger life-threatening anaphylaxis. This immunological reaction can result in restriction of a person’s airways and suffocation or severe lowering of blood pressure leading to potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, anaphylaxis due to food allergies is responsible for up to 30,000 emergency room visits, 2,000 hospitalizations, and 150 deaths. Most people with known severe allergies carry epinephrine pens to administer the injection that will save their lives. Still, eighty percent of ER patients experiencing anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, do not receive epinephrine when they should, according to a study featured in NPR.
A knowledge gap among doctors of internal medicine, of whom only half knew to turn to epinephrine as the first treatment for severe allergic reactions, might be contributing to this issue, according to a study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Many ER doctors use anaphylaxis to treat cardiac arrest, partly explaining medical staff’s hesitance to use it. Fortunately, a joint task force of allergists recently published guidelines that say epinephrine should be the “first and fast” treatment for anaphylaxis. Though allergists have been recommending epinephrine as a first treatment for years, this December 2014 marks the first time allergists have collaborated with emergency room specialists.
The guidelines also recommend that clinical facilities refer patients to follow-up care consistently and that patients take an active role in their healthcare, communicating to medical staff that they are having anaphylaxis and in need of epinephrine. Moving forward, these guidelines offer a prime opportunity to direct policy toward the prevention of deaths by severe allergies. By signing the petition below, you can raise awareness of this life-saving protocol and push for its implementation.
Dear Dr. Frieden,
I am writing to direct your attention to the recent guidelines in Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology regarding treatment of severe allergic reactions. Although most people with severe allergies carry epinephrine pens, only half of doctors of internal medicine know to administer the treatment, according to a study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Fortunately, these guidelines can be the foundation for policy to improve clinical response to anaphylaxis. I urge you to lead the way in implementing them. Your actions are essential to helping medical staff across the country prevent deaths due to severe allergies.
[Your name Here]
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