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The RCPCH care pathway for children with drug allergies: an evidence and consensus based national approach


Aims The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) was commissioned by the Department of Health to develop a drug allergy pathway. It focuses on defining the competences to improve the equity of care received by children.

Method The drug pathway was developed by a multidisciplinary working group and was based on a comprehensive review of evidence. The team decided to focus on IgE-mediated reactions as these have the greatest potential to be life-threatening.

Results The results are presented in four parts: evidence review, pathway mapping, external review and core knowledge documents. The evidence review found a high percentage of putative penicillin allergy is not confirmed by objective testing and that resensitisation to β-lactam drugs was infrequent. It also highlighted the importance of a detailed history and accurate diagnosis along with clear communication of test results to both family and primary care.

Conclusions This pathway demonstrates the spectrum of drug allergy is varied and may differ for young children compared with older children and adults. The authors highlight the paucity of evidence to support allergy testing for most drugs, in children, other than supervised incremental provocation tests (when indicated). Acute presentations require emergency health professionals to address underlying allergic issues, including recognition and avoidance of potential drug allergy triggers. Non-acute presentations may include multi-system symptoms which may have a broad differential diagnosis; this document signposts to the relevant partners in the RCPCH care pathway portfolio. Management combines a care package including a definitive diagnosis, initiating treatments and ongoing education.

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