Allergic emergencies in the prehospital setting: a 5 year retrospective study

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Authors Information

1Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Coimbra Hospital and University Center, Coimbra, Portugal
2National Institute of Medical Emergency, Central Base HUC, Coimbra Hospital and University Center, Coimbra, Portugal
3Coimbra Clinical Academic Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal 


Published: 18 May 2023
Accepted: 12 May 2023
Received: 08 March 2023


Background. Patients with severe allergic conditions often request support from the prehospital emergency services given the rapid, unexpected and potentially life-threatening nature of the reactions, such as anaphylaxis. Studies regarding prehospital incidents for allergic conditions are scarce. This study aimed to characterize prehospitalar medical requesting assistance due to suspected hypersensitivity reactions (HSR). Methods. Retrospective study of allergic-related requesting assistances between 2017-2022 of a Portuguese emergency dispatch centre – Emergency and Resuscitation Medical Vehicle (VMER), in Coimbra University Hospital. Demographic and clinical variables were analysed, including clinical manifestations, anaphylaxis severity grading, therapeutic interventions, and post-incident allergic work-up. Regarding anaphylactic events, three diagnosis timings were compared: on-site, hospital emergency department and Investigator-diagnosis based on data reviewed. Results. Out of 12689 VMER requesting assistances, 210 (1.7%) were classified as suspected HSR reactions. After on-site medical evaluation, 127 (60.5%) cases maintained the HSR classification (median age 53 years; 56% males) and the main diagnoses included HSR to Hymenoptera venom (29.9%), food allergy (29.1%), and pharmaceutical drugs (25.5%). Anaphylaxis was assumed on-site in 44 (34.7%) cases, in the hospital emergency department in 53 cases (41.7%) and by investigators in 76 (59.8%) cases. Regarding management, epinephrine was administered on-site in 50 cases (39.4%). Conclusions. The main reason for prehospital requesting assistance was HSR to Hymenoptera venom. A high proportion of incidents met the criteria for anaphylaxis and despite the inherent difficulties of the prehospital setting, many of the on-site diagnoses agreed with the criteria. Regarding management, epinephrine was underused in this setting. Referral to specialized consultation is crucial for the management of prehospital incidents. 

Emergency; prehospital care; anaphylaxis; epinephrine; allergy.

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European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology ISSN 1764-1489 | © 2024