My youngest sister who lives in New Jersey suffers from idiopathic anaphylaxis. Her last attack was 2 months ago in May when I had my jury duty. It happened in her jobsite after a meal most probably loaded with the stuff that she is allergic to. The manager at her work place called 911. They do not have epipen, or had it but did not give it correctly so that my niece was called to deliver epipen from home. Many minutes were wasted at that time alone. Anyway, the epipen came and the EMT injected it in my sister’s thigh. She would not wake up, became very lethargic and eventually stopped breathing, so the EMT decided to intubate her but unsuccessfully because, she was fighting and resisting intubation. When they came to the hospital finally, my sis was being bagged and they tried intubation again. Instead of checking her oxygen saturation level, the ERMD decided to intubate her, of course, she was fighting again and resisting, a clue that she was still awake. The staff gave her diprivan ( MJ’s drug) over and over again until she slept, successfully intubated my poor sister who cannot fight and resist anymore as she was totally knocked out as if she was in a coma.
She was on the ventilator / respirator for the entire night. According to my sis she was asleep from 4pm to 7am, but could not remember much except when she was fighting with the staff when she was being intubated. The following morning, she felt that both her legs were very heavy, a symptom of rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown due to diprivan). The staff summoned the neurologist at her bedside, even he commented, ” they should have checked your O2 sat before intubating you.” I called that Bingo! They were too aggressive, they should have waited for the epipen to work. She did not need that intubation!
I was confident enough to say that she did not need the intubation because, she had an episode of respiratory arrest due to anaphylaxis in my home few years back and I gave the epipen myself, just waited and she was back breathing and conscious without any problem after a few minutes. We called 911 though, just the same, as a fall back position. She was only in the hospital for a few good hours.
Another very recent experience of my sister was in the doctor’s clinic. She was summoned by the doctor, an allergist, for some skin tests, since her blood work was normal. She was given three types of allergens. Her arms became very red, she became ill, vomited and felt warm all over, eventually complained of shortness of breathing. The MD specialist called 911, informing my sis and her family that they do not have the equipments for emergency and resuscitation. In the meantime, he said that the skin test was negative and my sister was just upset because my niece is leaving for college the next day. The Md suggested that my sis leave thru the back door of his clinic to go with the 911 staff. Of course, that would be embarrassing for his patients to see that he was not able to successfully treat my sister and has to call 911 for emergency services. While my sis was in the ER, the allergist was calling frantically asking about how she was doing. He still insisted that the skin test was negative despite my sister’s symptomatology including laryngeal edema. The ERMD mentioned, it must be “false negative”. She was given solu-medrol (anti-inflammatory) and another epipen in the the ER.
She was home after a few hours, and called me. I advised her to take benadryl (antihistamine) 50mg as soon as possible, and repeat it in the morning if she still does not feel right.
I am too afraid now to go to the hospital. It is either because of their aggressiveness to charge my insurance or their experience is not very good or plain incompetence. I hate emergency rooms, I know better because, I was a certified ER nurse for 6 years before I became an ANP.