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In the Emergency Department (ED), diagnosis and management of anaphylaxis are challenging with at least 50% of anaphylaxis episodes misdiagnosed when the diagnostic criteria of current guidelines are not used.

Objective of our study was to assess anaphylaxis diagnosis and management in patients presenting to the ED.

Retrospective chart review conducted on patients presenting to The Medical City Hospital ED, the Philippines from 2013–2015 was done. Cases were identified based on International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th revision coding for either anaphylaxis or other allergic related diagnosis. Cases fitting the definition of anaphylaxis as identified by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (NIAID/FAAN) were included. Data collected included demographics, signs and symptoms, triggers and management.

A total of 105 cases were evaluated. Incidence of anaphylaxis for the 3-year study period was 0.03%. Of the 105 cases, 35 (33%) were diagnosed as “urticaria” or “hypersensitivity reaction” despite fulfilling the NIAID/FAAN anaphylaxis criteria. There was a significant difference in epinephrine administration between those given the diagnosis of anaphylaxis versus misdiagnosed cases (61 [87%] vs. 12 [34%], χ2 = 30.77, p < 0.01); and a significant difference in time interval from arrival at the ED to epinephrine administration, with those diagnosed as anaphylaxis (48%) receiving epinephrine within 10 minutes, versus ≥ 60 minutes for most of the misdiagnosed group (χ2 = 52.97, p < 0.01).

Despite current guidelines, anaphylaxis is still misdiagnosed in the ED. Having an ED diagnosis of anaphylaxis significantly increases the likelihood of epinephrine administration, and at a shorter time interval.