AAAHC toolkit and benchmarking study offer tips for latex and penicillin allergies

Dec. 4, 2019

The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care

(AAAHC) has updated its Allergy Documentation Toolkit with an overview of challenges and improvement strategies, as well as more specific information on latex and penicillin/beta-lactam allergies, to help ambulatory healthcare organizations avoid patient complications.

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, costing the healthcare system an estimated $18 billion. Penicillin allergies are the most common drug allergy in the U.S., with a reported prevalence of 10%, while latex allergies affect 1–7% of the U.S. population. For surgical procedures, specifically, hypersensitivity reactions may affect 1 in every 358 patients. The updated toolkit covers a wide range of allergic reactions – from severe and life-threatening, to sensitivities, intolerances, idiosyncratic reactions, and side effects.

“While documentation cannot always prevent adverse reactions, how healthcare providers approach documentation can help to reduce risk,” said Naomi Kuznets, PhD, vice president and senior director of the AAAHC Institute for Quality Improvement. “Ambulatory organizations can use this resource to develop an action plan to improve allergy education and create a standard, consistent process to follow when documenting allergies.”

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) require documentation of allergies to medications in the pre-surgical assessment, allergy information on patient charts is often incomplete or inconsistent.  

As shown in the 2019 AAAHC Quality Roadmap, accreditation survey data from 2018 surveys revealed two of the most common issues in allergy documentation are allergies not being updated during each visit and an overreliance on “No Known Drug Allergies” (NKDA).

“It is best practice for providers to note any severe reactions a patient has to any type of treatment and not just to drugs,” said Kuznets. “Thorough documentation enables healthcare providers to take immediate action when a reaction occurs in the future.”

To improve allergy documentation practices, AAAHC encourages ambulatory organizations to develop an action plan centered on education, consistency, and standardization. The updated toolkit provides organizations with current research and an action plan to educate staff, achieve consistent documentation, and standardize processes, prompts, and care transitions. Complementing the revised toolkit is an allergy documentation benchmarking study set to begin in January 2020.

“Our allergy documentation resources are dynamic, educational opportunities designed to help organizations develop best practices, reduce risk and improve patient outcomes,” said Noel Adachi, MBA, president and CEO of AAAHC. “The updated toolkit and the new benchmarking study underscore the many ways AAAHC works with accredited organizations to help them stay 1095 Strong, quality every day, for the 1,095 days of the accreditation term.”

AAAHC has the study.