Even with the best medical treatment known provided quickly after an anaphylactic reaction, a teen died after taking a bite of a snack containing peanuts, to which she was severely allergic. It is important to note that the snack was not clearly marked to contain peanuts and it was a style of treat (Rice Krispies) that would not ordinarily contain peanuts.
In a situation requiring emergency response, it is important to ensure that all the prescribed steps were taken. The required steps can be diagrammed visually within a Process Map. In this case, all available actions were taken to attempt to reverse the allergic reaction. (View the Process Map of the appropriate food allergy response by clicking “Download PDF” above.)
For reasons as yet unknown, food allergies have been increasing over recent years. This has resulted in a greater risk for anaphylactic reactions, which can result in serious injury and even death, usually from throat closure from swelling (known as severe laryngeal edema).
According to John Lehr, the Chief Executive Officer of Food Allergy Research & Education: “Avoidance is the only way to avoid a reaction, but we know accidents happen. That’s the insidious nature of food allergies.”
Because avoidance is the only way to avoid an anaphylactic reaction, many schools and other public facilities have stopped offering any food containing peanuts. Others have designated peanut-free zones to help those with allergies avoid contact with peanuts. (Although peanut allergies are not the most prevalent, they are the most dangerous, both from reaction severity and likelihood of contact.) Certainly, snacks containing peanuts must be clearly marked as such.
Because of the high risk of serious injury or even death from food allergies, please pass the word about food allergies. If you are an allergy sufferer, ensure that you have multiple epinephrine auto-injectors that have not expired. It may save your life. (Although up to 40% of anaphylaxis victims require two or three epinephrine injections, death after receiving injections is extremely rare.) Also note, from John Lehr: “We tell people that their last reaction is not an indication of their next reaction. Don’t think because you have not had a severe reaction that you can’t have one.” If you provide food to the public or children, consider removing peanuts from your kitchen and at the very least, clearly mark anything that does contain peanuts. Remember, the risk from food allergies is very real, and can be very severe.
You can see the cause-and-effect relationships that led to this tragedy, as well as the Process Map discussing anaphylactic response, in visual form, by clicking “Download PDF” above. Or click here to read more.