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Adrenaline pen can be life saving, but many don't use it right

July 17, 2013 at 9:29 PM   |   Comments

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LONDON, July 19 (UPI) -- An adrenaline auto-injector to treat anaphylactic shock can be life saving, but many parents don't use them improperly, British researchers say.

Dr. Robert Boyle, a clinical senior lecturer in pediatric allergy at the Imperial College London, said the study involved 158 children with severe food allergies and their mothers, who were given training in how to use an adrenaline auto-injector.

The study found six weeks after training 58 percent of the mothers were unable to use an adrenaline auto-injector effectively in an allergic reaction scenario using a dummy. The most common problem was that they did not remove the relevant caps.

Others could not activate the adrenaline auto-injector or did not use the correct end. Using the incorrect end resulted in the mothers injecting themselves with the adrenaline instead of the dummy, Boyle added.

"The design is not intuitive, especially in stressful situations where for example a child suddenly has difficulty breathing, or loses consciousness due to an allergic reaction to food," Boyle said in a statement.

"It is easy for parents and caregivers to panic when their child has a severe allergic reaction, and so more effective training in how to administer adrenaline is essential. The design of adrenaline auto-injectors is gradually getting better but it is still not completely obvious how to use one, taking into account the stress and suddenness of the situation. Manufacturers must make more effort to design the adrenaline auto-injector with the parent in mind at a time when they and the child are scared."

Topics: Robert Boyle
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