Latex Allegy: A Strategy for Management*

by M. J. Dakin and S. M. Yentis

Incidents of latex allergy make it essential for hospitals to develop strategies to identify and manage at-risk patients and healthcare workers. Because anesthetists are pivotal in perioperative patient management, they are in a prime position to develop protocols and strategies. One UK hospital's anesthetic department developed an effective strategy that can be used as a guide for other hospitals.

The following stages were involved in developing the strategy:

  • Recognition of a problem requiring action
  • Collection of a problem requiring action
  • Identification of at-risk patients through knowledge of risk factors and immunological testing
  • Formulation of a protocol in conjunction with the risk management team and development of a latex-free equipment database, including latex-free gloves
  • Education of staff and patients and presentation of the protocol

Comprehensive education, awareness and good communication are the cornerstones to ensuring that a latex-free environment is provided throughout a patient's hospital stay. The establishment of a strategy and protocol for latex allergy awareness is an effective and necessary way for hospitals to manage latex sensitization.

*Article published in Anaesthesia, 1998, 53