The Practice Advancement Initiative (PAI) week was created by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) to showcase the role of pharmacists as direct patient care providers in health-systems. It is defined by ASHP as “a professional-led initiative that is empowering pharmacists to take responsibility for patient outcomes in acute and ambulatory care settings.” This year PAI week took place during the week of February 18th. During its PAI week event, the penicillin allergy educational task force chose to focus on the pillars of leadership in medication use, pharmacist credentialing and training and care team integration.
The task force returned to Soda City Market to spread awareness and educate patrons about penicillin allergies. Accompanied once again by Dr. Julie Justo, students spoke with market attendees about their possible allergies or the allergies of friends or family members.
As the second event of this kind, the task force expanded to include more volunteer members from the P1, P2, and P3 classes. Earlier in the month, SSHP held a training and education seminar and prepared new task force members, 16 of which attended the February 23rd event, to counsel people curious about their suspected allergies. Leaders of the task force discussed the typical presentation of allergies, the most common symptoms mistaken for allergy symptoms, the range of medications containing the beta-lactam ring structure responsible for penicillin allergy, as well as the penicillin allergy skin test, where it is being offered, and the role of pharmacists in its administration.
At Soda City Market, the task force spoke with 80 attendees about their allergies and the symptoms they experienced after taking penicillin or related antibiotics. As was the case at the first event, many of those who were labeled as penicillin allergic experienced their reactions at a young age and could not remember the details of their reactions. Most were surprised to learn that it was possible to lose their sensitivity to penicillin antibiotics after many years and were equally surprised that a simple skin test could be performed to determine if they are currently allergic. Of the 80 people that were counseled, two were de-labeled after it was discovered they tolerated a penicillin antibiotic and 8 were referred to a local allergist for possible skin testing.
The task force also spoke with a young adult female who had been told she was allergic to penicillin and had a reaction in early childhood; however, she did not remember the reaction and her parents could not remember the details either. During the discussion, she revealed that she had taken and tolerated a cephalosporin antibiotic. After being told of their similarities, she inquired about ways to find out if she is allergic to penicillin. Though she could not be de-labeled from this information alone, she was informed that skin testing may be appropriate, and she was referred to an allergist for further investigation.
Over the course of the event, many people from many different backgrounds approached the booth. A favorite event for Columbia natives, Soda City draws locals and visitors from out of town and several of those visitors came with questions about their allergies. One mother from New York spoke with the task force about her son’s penicillin allergy. He had been given two separate penicillin antibiotics within the last five years. The first produced a reaction with hives and the second resulted in difficulty breathing and a hospital visit. The mother was counseled about the variety of penicillin antibiotics and encouraged to ensure her son’s allergy was documented with his health care providers and pharmacy at home. She was also praised for keeping detailed personal records of the events, including the names of the medications, descriptions of the reaction, and sharing that information with her son. The interaction with this family showed how grass roots involvement in the community can encourage helpful practices to prevent future adverse events and have a greater impact than one might expect.
Overall, the PAI week event and second visit to Soda City reproduced the success of the first visit and gained much more student involvement than the first. The task force expects to return to Soda City in the future and is eager to expand its reach!
To read more about PAI week, click here.