New standard of care for anaphylaxis

A new clinical care standard is expected to improve the recognition of anaphylaxis, and the provision of appropriate treatment and follow-up care.

Released on Wednesday 24 November the new Acute Anaphylaxis Clinical Care Standard, developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), emphasises the need for prompt treatment and continuity of patient care between acute and general practice healthcare settings.

It outlines six statements to improve patient care and reduce complications with anaphylaxis. They include:

  • Prompt recognition of anaphylaxis
  • Immediate injection of intramuscular adrenaline
  • Correct patient positioning
  • Access to a personal adrenaline injector in all healthcare settings
  • Observation time following anaphylaxis
  • Discharge management and documentation

Clinical lead for the new standard, Associate Professor Amanda Walker, Clinical Director at the Commission, reaffirmed the goal as safer care for all anaphylaxis patients.

“The standard addresses gaps in existing guidelines for patient care, such as ensuring timely treatment with adrenaline and strengthening the process for handover of care along the patient journey,” she said.

“Adrenaline is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis and should be administered promptly.

“But a person who has experienced anaphylaxis remains vulnerable in the community after discharge. There needs to be a safe discharge and clear handover of care to the patient’s GP and immunologist.”

The new clinical care standard is also important for families and carers of people at risk, as well as for the individual themselves.

“It is vital for people at risk of anaphylaxis to know how to manage their allergy, how to recognise symptoms and how to correctly use a personal adrenaline injector if needed,” A/Professor Walker explained.

“What is new in the national standard is a requirement for patients at risk of anaphylaxis to have access to their prescribed adrenaline injector at all times. In hospital and healthcare settings, patients do not usually have access to their own medicines. This is one important exception, to ensure the adrenaline injector is with the patient wherever they are, so they can use it if needed.” 

This policy was introduced in Victoria in 2019 following the death of a patient with allergies in hospital.

The new clinical care standard is supported and endorsed by the National Allergy Strategy, a partnership between the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and consumer group Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA). Endorsement has also been provided by 15 medical and nursing colleges and other professional bodies.

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