Latex Allergy Treatments
- Prehospital providers should be aware of the risk of latex allergy in patients and providers.
- Search for and read MedicAlert-type bracelets.
- Note the patient's history of relevant allergies to medical devices or fruits.
- To rule out latex allergy that could worsen with further medical exposure, review the patient's history of activities/exposures immediately preceding any systemic allergic reaction.
- Use powder-free latex gloves or, ideally, high-quality nonlatex gloves to minimize risk to patients and providers. Latex-free resuscitation and intravenous (IV) access equipment should be available for high-risk patients. Do not give medication from rubber-topped multidose vials or through latex IV ports in latex-allergic patients.
Emergency Department Care: Patients with known or suspected latex allergy who seek care for unrelated medical conditions or injuries must be kept within a latex-safe environment to prevent serious complications. This includes all patients with spina bifida.
Patients presenting with frank symptoms of type I latex allergy are treated as any other patients with systemic allergic reactions, except they must be protected from further latex contact to avoid clinical deterioration. Many EDs represent very high-risk environments for latex-sensitive patients, particularly if powdered latex gloves are still in use.
- Latex-free resuscitation equipment must be available. This frequently is accomplished with a mobile, latex-free cart carrying nonlatex intubation and ventilation equipment, IV tubing, syringes, tourniquets, electrode pads, gloves, masks, and medication vials.
- Routine care of high-risk patients should use nonlatex supplies. Major reactions in sensitized patients have been precipitated with pelvic and rectal exams using latex gloves, urinary catheterization with latex catheters, IV medication given through latex ports, and inhalation of aerosolized latex glove powder.
- Consultants must be aware of the need to completely avoid latex exposure to the patient during examinations and procedures.
- Patients needing studies in other hospital areas, such as radiology, must be transported without risking latex exposure.
- Identification of latex versus nonlatex medical devices traditionally has required laborious contacts with individual manufacturers. Since 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has required all manufacturers to apply warning labels to medical devices containing natural rubber latex. This regulation has helped to facilitate safe care of patients who are allergic to latex. In addition, medical device manufacturers have developed many latex-free alternatives for routine care and invasive procedures.
Consultations: Consultants must be aware of the need to scrupulously avoid exposing the patient to latex during exams and procedures.
Further Inpatient Care:
- Patients with major latex allergies who are admitted for allergic complications or unrelated conditions must be moved to latex-safe rooms with clear warnings on doors and charts.
- All examinations and care must be done without use of latex-containing devices or equipment.
- All providers should be educated to avoid inadvertent exposure.
- Latex is the second most common cause of intraoperative anaphylaxis, which can be difficult to diagnose because of infrequent cutaneous signs and patients' inability to express symptoms. Known latex allergy or a history suggestive of major latex allergy should trigger the use of latex-free operating rooms and postoperative care.