Patients and doctors lack knowledge about adrenaline injections

December 04, 2003

Patients and general practitioners lack knowledge of how and when to use devices to inject adrenaline after anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions), finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers assessed the knowledge of 60 patients (or their parents) who had been prescribed injectable adrenaline and 50 general practitioners about their understanding of when and how injectable adrenaline should be used.

Two of the 14 adults and the parents of only 16 of the 46 children knew when and how to use injectable adrenaline. Overall, fewer than a third of patients or parents had adequate knowledge of when and how to use the device.

Only one general practitioner knew how to use the device, because of a personal history of anaphylaxis.

None of the general practitioners personally showed patients how or when to use the device, and over half (26) would not advise patients to go to hospital after taking adrenaline for anaplylaxis. This is in contrast to recommended practice.

Current provision in the United Kingdom for patients with allergies is poor, and patients may have to wait between diagnosis of anaphylaxis and assessment by a specialist, say the authors. Prescribers should therefore ensure that patients and parents are properly educated, they conclude.


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