American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting

Perspective from Beth E. Corn, MD
November 14, 2016
2 min read
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Majority of non-nurse school staff correctly identified anaphylaxis treatment protocol

Perspective from Beth E. Corn, MD
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While most surveyed non-nurse school staff correctly identified the protocol to treat severe allergic reactions among students, few felt confident in their ability to recognize symptoms or treat anaphylaxis, as stated by a study presented at the 2016 American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.

“School staff training is critical to make sure kids who are having a severe allergic reaction are treated promptly and correctly,” Julie Wang, MD, associate professor of allergy and immunology at Mount Sinai Hospital, said in a press release. “School personnel should know that epinephrine is the first line of defense in treating anaphylaxis. The consequences of not using epinephrine when it’s needed are much worse than using it when it might not be necessary.”

To evaluate the knowledge in treating food-induced anaphylaxis, Wang and colleagues distributed an anonymous questionnaire to non-nurse school staff at Colorado schools from August 2015 to January 2016.

The researchers collected 143 completed surveys from school staff, including teachers, office personnel, school administrators and custodial staff. Among the respondents, 54% noted that they were staff members from rural schools, 33% were from suburban schools and 13% were from urban schools.

The researchers found that 66% of the surveys reported that the staff received food allergy training from the school with an average training time of 29 minutes.

According to survey results, a low percentage of non-nurse school staff felt confident in their ability to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis (18%) or their ability to treat anaphylaxis (19%); however, based on knowledge-based survey questions, 87% of the staff could identify the correct sequence of actions to take if they found a child undergoing anaphylaxis.

“Even though most of the non-nurse school staff weren’t confident in their ability to recognize and treat a severe allergic reaction, the staff members were able to answer correctly, on average, 72% of the 12 knowledge-based questions in the survey,” researcher Angela Tsuang, MD, MSc, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a press release.

Based on these findings, the researchers noted that additional education and training should include non-nursing staff to increase confidence in their skills; the survey reported that most of food allergy training was provided by school nurses (71%) who represent a vital component in reducing the incidence of anaphylaxis among schoolchildren.

“This tells us the majority of non-nurse staff know what to do in an allergic reaction emergency, and we should train a broader range of staff to increase confidence in these skills,” Tsuang said in the release. — by Bob Stott

Reference:
Tsuang A, et al. Abstract #O028. Presented at: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting; Nov. 11-14, 2016; San Francisco.