A significant percentage of parents who have children with food allergies say they are not getting the guidance and training they need on how and when to use an epinephrine auto-injector, a new study suggests.
The study involved 859 parents in metropolitan Chicago. For those visiting pediatricians, fewer than 40 percent of parents recalled their child’s pediatrician explaining when to use epinephrine. With allergist visits, fewer than 70 percent reported the allergist explaining when to administer epinephrine. Even fewer parents said they were shown how to use the device.
The study also found that many parents said their kids’ doctors aren’t providing them with written emergency food allergy action plans for home and school.
“There is a gap in the communication between doctors and parents in management of their children’s food allergies that we need to fix,” said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor in pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Both institutions were involved in the study, with the results based on questionnaires that parents filled out.
Gupta said that the guidelines that exist for treatment provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases aren’t being followed. She noted that even though the study results showed that the level of care was seen to be high from both pediatricians and allergists, preparation for emergencies beyond the doctor’s office were inadequate.
The study’s authors said the first steps to be taken must be to ensure that all physicians are trained in best practice guidelines for anaphylaxis emergencies, and how to communicate these guidelines to patients, the authors said. Beyond that, Gupta noted that a little repetition can go a long way.
“Physicians have to make sure the parents can repeat back the directions,” she said. “Parents may not be digesting all the information given to them in a short period of time.”
The study was funded in part by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) and was published January 12 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.