Pharmacy students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) have highlighted the importance of swift action to help those who suffer a severe allergic reaction.
RGU’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Student Chapter held an Anaphylaxis Event at the university’s Riverside East building at the end of March.
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can develop rapidly.
The event was organised to increase awareness of which prescription only medicines pharmacists are legally permitted to supply and administer without prescription in life saving situations.
Although the condition is life-threatening, deaths are rare. There are around 20 deaths in the UK each year. With prompt and proper treatment, most people make a full recovery.
Students Eva (22) and Chris Bland (20), who are brother and sister and in fourth year and third year of Pharmacy at RGU respectively, gave a presentation to more than 50 attendees.
They both have a history of severe anaphylactic reactions and based their presentation from a patient perspective.
Eva said: “My first experience of anaphylaxis happened when I was eight years old which was a huge shock. I’ve since had three occasions where I should have used my EpiPen, but have always been too scared to do it myself and have just gone straight to hospital.
“I carry antihistamines, an EpiPen and anti-sickness tablets with me everywhere I go, just in case of a reaction because they always got worse and I required medical attention after I was sick.
“A doctor who treated me for anaphylaxis in Holland while on holiday recommended I take two antihistamines and an anti-sickness pill at the start of any reaction to try and combat this.”
Chris added: “Eva and I presented a lot of information on what anaphylaxis is, how best to treat it, what to use, and some of my own personal experiences of what I have been told to do during an anaphylactic attack.
“The event was very useful as it re-enforced my own knowledge of how to treat anaphylaxis and I enjoyed helping people with their questions too.”
Third year student Christine Filion-Murphy is President of the IHI and helped to organise the event, the first student-led session of its kind at RGU.
She said: “The idea for the event was developed by our colleague Kirsty Regan after what happened two years ago in Ireland where a girl was refused an EpiPen from a Pharmacy and died outside it. We are keen to highlight that in an emergency pharmacists are allowed to give out EpiPens.
“We felt that by clearing up some of the confusion surrounding the letter of the law and adding patient perspective, we could increase patient safety in future and hopefully prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.
“Chris and Eva did a fantastic job and created a safe, fun atmosphere in which our members were able to openly discuss how they would approach situations like these in future.
“They were able to present their allergies and their experiences of prior hospitalisations and even revealed that patients often doubt themselves when deciding whether or not to use their EpiPen.
“The feedback from the event has been positive with many who came on the night commenting on how much more they had learned about EpiPens and the law around supplying it as a pharmacist in an emergency.”
Ross AndersonCommunications Officer | Health and Sport