Recommendation ID
Communicating information about drug allergy:- In people with suspected or confirmed drug allergies, are patient-focused information strategies more effective than standard NHS practice in increasing people's likelihood of disclosing their drug allergy (or their suspected drug allergy) and therefore reducing the risk of being re-exposed to the affected drug?
Any explanatory notes
(if applicable)
Administering drugs to which patients have a reported allergy can be fatal, but inadvertent prescription or administration of such drugs is common. Data from the UK General Practice Research Database indicate that the incidence of contraindicated antibiotics being re-prescribed to patients with suspected penicillin allergy is as high as 48.5%, suggesting that even electronic systems with reminders do not eliminate the risk of inappropriate prescribing. Also, few allergy documentation systems communicate across healthcare organisations, so this information may be lost when patients move to new areas.
Patients and their families and carers have been identified as a resource to prevent inappropriate prescribing. This is in line with the concept of 'patient responsibility' described in the NHS Constitution (2010). Patients and their families and carers are encouraged to be involved in decisions about their care and this includes decisions about drug choice. However, in current practice information is usually not provided unless drug allergy is confirmed by specialists. Suitable information provision is important to encourage people to volunteer their allergy status (be it suspected or confirmed) and make sure that this is appropriately documented by healthcare professionals.
The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) recommends giving patients written details about their allergy, including information on drugs they should avoid. However, it is unclear what factors influence patients to disclose their allergy status to healthcare professionals and what would empower them to do so, to improve safety.

Source guidance details

Comes from guidance
Drug allergy: diagnosis and management
Date issued
September 2014

Other details

Is this a recommendation for the use of a technology only in the context of research? No  
Is it a recommendation that suggests collection of data or the establishment of a register?   No  
Last Reviewed 15/10/2014