Key to this is the difference between side effects and an allergic reaction. All medicines have the potential to cause a range of side effects such as diarrhoea or dizziness. An allergic reaction could lead to swelling and constriction of airways and can be fatal in some cases.
Sally Tomlin, Chief Pharmacist at Salisbury District Hospital said: “It’s essential that people know the difference between a side effect and an allergic reaction, so that when asked about their status by a health professional or pharmacist they can give an accurate answer. Of course it’s important that people who are allergic to medication don’t take it. It’s also important that patients receive the most effective treatment for their condition.”
Penicillin is a good example of an effective drug that cannot be given because of allergy concerns. Yet nationally around 80 to 90 percent of all patients who say they have an penicillin allergy are negative when tested.
Mrs Tomlin said: ” As part of a regional project that looked at medication provided in hospital and the community, we spoke to patients and the public to get an idea of their understanding of allergies and whether they felt that they had an allergy themselves. We also spoke to them to find out what they felt was the best way to ensure that they receive the right medication. We all agreed that it was essential that people themselves need to have accurate knowledge of their own allergy status, as they could be asked when given medication in hospital, the community or even abroad when on holiday.”
“We now provide allergy information leaflets to patients and have penicillin status cards that they can carry if they have a penicillin allergy . We also now ask allergy status to be recorded in referral letters, so that this is communicated between hospitals, GPs and community pharmacists. “
Mrs Tomlin added: “ The fact is that anyone may need medication at home or abroad at any time. The key is that if they are in a position to provide information on their allergy status, the health professional can prescribe and give them the most effective and safe medicine for their condition or illness. ” Ends
For further information please contact:
Patrick Butler, Public Relations Manager, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. Tel: 01722 425170