Many patients are considered to be allergic to one or more medications, most commonly antibiotics. In some cases these are true allergies, but in many cases they are adverse reactions (as opposed to allergy), or are symptoms caused by the illness rather than the medication, or are reactions that happened in childhood that may be no longer relevant.
In all of these cases, the risk of reacting to the medication needs to be weighed against the risks of not receiving the medication, but this can only happen if we have a good record of what the reaction was.
Taking and documenting a clear and accurate allergy and adverse drug reaction (ADR) history on admission is essential for patient safety. Having an accurate allergy history prevents unnecessary reactions and reduces length of hospital admissions.
Patients who receive second line antibiotic regimens because of reported allergies have increased adverse events. These regimens are often broader spectrum and therefore increase the risk of developing antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, for all allergies, it is imperative that we have a clearly documented allergy history.
This World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, we remind all prescribers, nurses, midwives and pharmacists to obtain a detailed allergy and adverse reaction history from every patient or carer and accurately document this the EMR Banner Bar.
Be part of the solution to improve patient safety and save our antimicrobials.
For more information, refer to:
- Allergies and Adverse Drug Reactions Taking and documenting a history Procedure
- Allergies and Adverse Drug Reaction History Taking Tool