MedWire News: Allergy alerts in patient records have the potential to significantly improve clinical practice, say Spanish researchers.
This is particularly true as the most common recorded allergy in records was drug related, they add.
"Although in hospitals physicians and other health care professionals are trained to ask about drug and latex allergy, other allergies are frequently ignored," explain M Dolores Hernández Fernandez De Rojas (Hospital Universitari La Fe, Valencia) and colleagues.
"In addition, patients with complex medical conditions, such as coeliac disease, deafness, or chronic renal diseases, frequently have multiple drug or food restrictions, all appearing in electronic health records (EHRs) as allergies."
Allergy alerts in patient records can therefore play an important role in alerting healthcare providers and providing the best care to hospitalized patients.
The researchers assessed allergy data in the records of patients admitted to Hospital La Fe in Valencia between January and June 2011.
They found that 64.4% of records contained information on allergies, and 2106 patients had an alert activated on hospitalization to declare an allergy, intolerance, or other type of adverse reaction. In 7907 cases, EHRs showed that patients were allergy and intolerance free.
The most common allergy was to drugs (74.4%), then foods (12.6%), and materials (4.8%). Reported drug and food allergies were largely accounted for by women, with rates of 64.8% and 58.0%, respectively. However, in children, more boys than girls reported food allergies, at 44.1% versus 55.9%.
The frequency of drug allergy appeared to increase with age, whereas food allergies decreased proportionally with age.
Writing in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the team concludes: "The proper use of a complete and thorough system for allergy alerts provides important information about the hospitalized patient and contributes to the improvement of daily clinical practice."
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