Multicenter study of emergency department visits for insect sting allergy
An earlier study of food-related anaphylaxis in the emergency department (ED) suggested low concordance with national guidelines for anaphylaxis management. To extend these findings, we performed a chart review study to describe current ED management of insect sting allergy. The Multicenter Airway Research Collaboration performed a chart review study in 15 North American EDs. Investigators reviewed 617 charts of patients with insect sting allergy. Patients were identified by using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, codes 989.5 (toxic effect of venom), 995.0 (other anaphylactic shock), and 995.3 (allergy, unspecified). The cohort was 42% female and 61% white, with a mean age of 36+/-19 years. In this cohort, 58% had local reactions, 11% had mild systemic reactions, and 31% had anaphylactic reactions, as defined by multisystem organ involvement or hypotension. Among patients with systemic reactions (mild or anaphylaxis), most (75%) were stung within 6 hours of ED arrival. While in the ED, 69% of systemic reaction patients received antihistamines, 50% systemic corticosteroids, and 12% epinephrine. Almost all systemic reaction patients (95%) were discharged to home. At ED discharge, 27% (95% CI, 22% to 33%) of systemic reaction patients received a prescription for self-injectable epinephrine. Only 20% (95% CI, 15% to 26%) had documentation of referral to an allergist. Although guidelines suggest specific approaches for the emergency management of insect sting allergy, concordance with these guidelines appears low in patients with a severe insect sting reaction.