November 3, 2008
Since I've been a nurse, I've had to ask patients about allergies to medication, latex, and any other allergies they may have. And I've heard quite a few. Some are legitimate, like to penicillin after they had an anaphylactic reaction. Other are not. I think sometimes people misunderstand an expected side effect and an allergy. I also take for granted that because I work in health care, I understand it better than a lot of people. And while I understand health care, I admit that I know jack squat about business, insurance and technical computer stuff. But, anyway, morphine is a drug people commonly think they are allergic to. I've had several people say they are allergic to morphine because they got a little itchy. I know how much itching from morphine sucks because I had a very bad case of it after my c-sections, but that is a side effect, not an allergy. Awhile back, I had a patient tell me they were allergic to pitocin, a medication used to cause contractions and to induce/augment labor. Her reaction to the med? She had said that she was given pitocin when she was induced with her last baby, and it made her crampy. Well, yes, it will do that, and that is what we want. But my favorite allergy, I heard this weekend. We had a mom going back for a c-section. As happens in c-sections, mom was given oxygen by a face mask. Mom started telling the anesthesiologist that she was allergic to oxygen. He politely said that she could not be allergic to oxygen, as she needed that to breathe and it is in the air around her, but she was adamant. He suggested maybe it was the mask or the tubing. Nope, it was the oxygen. He kept trying to explain how that couldn't be possible, but she remained firm. She did continue to get the O2 and had no ill effects.