I recently met with a new client who had transferred to a nursing home for sub-acute rehab. She had spent a few weeks in the hospital before her transfer and during her hospitalization, she had been given two antibiotics for pneumonia. She then developed a significant allergic reaction with a skin rash and intense itching. I happened to find the information regarding the use of the antibiotics and the allergic reaction were documented in her medical records that had to be sent to the nursing home. However, her allergic reaction was not documented on her nursing home chart. Apparently, no one else took the time to read the transferred records—and she could have been put in serious danger if she was given these medications again.

Allergic Reactions to Medications

Any medication can cause an allergic reaction. Antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, sulfa drugs, anti-seizure drugs, and chemotherapy agents are common causes of medication allergic reactions. Skin reactions with rashes or itching are common allergic drug reactions. Anaphylaxis is a severe life-threatening reaction characterized by severe hives, difficulty breathing, wheezing, low blood pressure, and swelling of the lips, face, or tongue.

For mild skin reactions, antihistamines are often prescribed. Most skin reactions clear up quickly with treatment. More serious reactions are treated with epinephrine, intravenous antihistamines, and emergency management to maintain a clear airway.

Share Your Information with Providers

If you have a known allergy to medication, it is important to share that information with your healthcare providers, pharmacist, dentists, family members, or caregivers. Remind your healthcare providers of your allergy each time you are prescribed a new medication or have a medical procedure. Take the time to verify that the information has been added to your medical records at all places you receive care. Also, consider obtaining a Medic Alert card or bracelet to communicate an allergy in case of an emergency.

Severino Health Advisors takes the time to carefully review your medical records to protect you from preventable medical errors and adverse drug reactions. Contact us today!