Woman with life-threatening allergic reactions feels safer at home than in hospital
A Lancashire woman who has had her life potentially saved on multiple occasions due to adrenaline-filled EpiPens says she would rather risk dealing with any future severe allergic reactions in her own home due to her experiences in hospital in the North-west.
Since 2017, Anita Robertson has suffered from severe and extreme allergies, especially to everyday foods such as onions and mushrooms, with rapid reactions.
Anita once needed paramedics to help her after she simply walked down the fabric softener aisle at an Asda supermarket on Switch Island in Liverpool, where she inhaled the products’ scents.
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Over the past four years she has been forced to use an EpiPen between 30 and 40 times due to the severity of her reactions, the West Lancashire resident of Banks hospitalized numerous times with severe vomiting, itching and rash. .
Her husband Kevin said he had seen her “turn blue” many times because of his low oxygen levels.
But now Kevin and Anita think she better deal with any serious reaction at home with just her EpiPen if anything should happen again due to historic hospital issues they say they’ve had.
This included medics saying she had no history of anaphylaxis, which resulted in her prescription EpiPen being withdrawn for seven months during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On another occasion, doctors reportedly said that she may be allergic to adrenaline while in hospital despite taking the drug for several years.
It was in December 2019 that doctors at Salford Royal Hospital wrote to Southport Hospital saying Anita had no history of anaphylaxis and mast cell activation syndrome; a condition where you have repeated episodes of symptoms of anaphylaxis.
The letter – of which LancsLive has a copy – stated that the risk of stroke was greater than the benefit of using an EpiPen as a result of the decision. This was despite the fact that Anita was at one point rushed to A&E in Salford after suffering a suspected allergic reaction.
Instead, the letter stated that Anita was suffering from spontaneous chronic urticaria and angioedema.
When Anita tried to get a new EpiPen in January 2020 from her GP at Roe Lane Surgery in Southport, she was denied the order due to the letter. It is understood that Southport and Formby CCG, who manages Roe Lane, had followed clinical recommendations at the time.
It was not until seven months later, in August 2020, that a new prescription for EpiPen was obtained by experts at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, who said she had “probably a recurrent anaphylaxis “. With the seven month period between the two being “touch and go,” Kevin said, with constant concern Anita could fall ill where she did not have access to medical help.
When Anita received a new prescription for EpiPen in August, doctors at the London Trust said the previous diagnosis of spontaneous chronic urticaria and angioedema was “unlikely in the face of acute and very intermittent episodes”.
A letter from the London Trust to Southport Hospital, seen by LancsLive, said Anita “must have an adrenaline injector available at all times”.
LancsLive also understands that a medical specialist recently informally diagnosed Anita with a form of mast cell activation syndrome, with further tests due next week.
During this period without EpiPen, Anita suffered a severe allergic reaction at Tesco supermarket in Chorley on February 11, 2020; with her and Kevin believing it could have been a much worse outcome if the on-site pharmacist hadn’t administered an EpiPen she had in her stores.
“The paramedics took 30 minutes to get there, so I really don’t know what would have happened to him without the pharmacist,” Kevin told LancsLive.
In April of this year, Anita was then admitted to Royal Preston Hospital with suspected chest pain. The Robertsons say that in consulting with staff at Southport Hospital about Anita’s medical records, it was mentioned that she was “potentially” allergic to adrenaline. This despite the fact that she has been using the drug since 2017 to deal with incidents of anaphylaxis and that epinephrine has been approved in her care plan.
Kevin said: “An episode like the one Anita went through means it’s likely to happen again. She’s had a history of it.”
Anita and Kevin are now concerned that in a post-containment world, she is more likely to have a reaction.
Even with that, the married couple believe Anita has an interest in dealing with a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction at home, hoping her EpiPen will suffice.
“Once at Preston Hospital I looked up and there were 10 doctors standing around my wife as she got oxygen after she suffered a reaction,” Kevin said, with Anita “turning blue” despite the adrenaline rush.
“There’s no way they’re there unless it’s necessary.
“So for the professionals to say it was wrong is so insulting to us and their medical professionals who were there.
“She’s like ‘don’t take me to the hospital if this happens’ – how can I object after that?”
A spokesperson for Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust said: ‘Ms Robertson’s previous concerns were addressed and she was provided with a plan to take charge of her care should she return to Southport Hospital . “
The Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has been unable to comment publicly on the matter due to ongoing communication with the patient in a direct manner.
But LancsLive understands that Trust has already written to Anita to address concerns raised by Trust. It is also understood that a trust investigation into the matters raised by Anita has been concluded and the results communicated to her in writing.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates Royal Preston Hospital, did not see fit to comment on the matter.
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