Suspected acute allergic reactions: analysis of admissions to the Emergency Department of the AOU Maggiore della Carità Hospital in Novara from 2003 to 2007


Objective of the Study: The aim of our work is to ascertain the frequency and the impact of acute allergic reactions on the routine of a highly-specialized Emergency Department collecting information on the admission, the typology of symptoms and the degree of severity calculating the incidence and the outcomes of the events. Materials and methods: The study started the 1 July 2006 and the records of the Emergency Department of the Maggiore della Carità Hospital in Novara were consulted retrospectively in the period between the 1 January 2003 and the 31 December 2006, and prospectively up to the 31 December 2007, using keywords that could identify admission for suspected allergic reactions. Information relating to internal medicine and/or pediatric cases were examined, excluding all surgical and/or trauma cases. The number of admissions per year was considered broken down by clinical signs, triage assessment upon admission and discharge outcome. Results: Admissions to the Emergency Department during the period under consideration were 165,120 with 6,107 suspected cases of allergic reactions. The symptoms most frequently reported both in adults (A) and children (C ²18 years old), were: hives 37%, asthma 20.65 (A)% and 27,4% (C); drug allergy 7.5% (A) and 6,1% (C). Reactions to Hymenoptera venom were less frequent, 4.7% (A) and 1.27% (C); the frequency of angioedema, conjunctivitis and rhinitis was between 1 and 4%. The incidence of food allergies (1.4%) and anaphylaxis (0.8%) was comparable for all ages. The triage assessment showed a significant percentage of “yellow” and “red” codes, with 362 cases (5.9%) and 71 cases (1.16%) respectively.
A total of 151 patients was hospitalized, no one classified as “white” code. Death occurred in 7 cases: 4 “yellow” codes and 3 “red” codes, respectively. A more detailed specialistic evaluation was recommended in only 10% of the patients. Conclusions: Admissions to the Emergency Department for suspected allergic reaction are proportional to the number of overall admissions for internal medicine cases and do not appear to be related to the general increase of allergies in the population. This led us to focus our attention on how allergic diseases impact the work of an Emergency Department and how to describe the discharge diagnosis better. A significant number of descriptive diagnoses also turned out to be inaccurate and did not allow the syndrome to be identified properly. The analysis of this information aims to be a stimulus to improve the emergency clinical approach used for allergic diseases and to plan the adequate management of allergic patients after they have been treated in hospital.

Table of Content: Vol. 40 (No. 4) 2008 December

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