Magazine article Medical Economics

Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Claude A. Frazier, MD: Defeating Death's Sting

Magazine article Medical Economics

Doctors Who Go the Extra Mile: Claude A. Frazier, MD: Defeating Death's Sting

Article excerpt

For three decades, allergist Claude A. Frazier has been on a lonely crusade. It's taken him to state legislatures and elementary school classrooms throughout the United States and on visits to much of Europe as well. Frazier's mission is straightforward but elusive: to eradicate deaths caused by anaphylactic reactions to insect stings.

The impetus came in 1970. "A woman called me about her son, one of my patients. He'd been treated in the ER for anaphylaxis and was brought back in when he was stung again. The doctors gave him an antihistamine, but he died. It was such a heartbreak."

Frazier was dismayed that the physicians gave the child antihistamines when only epinephrine could have saved him. And he was certain the problem of fatal bee stings was greater than reported. "When a football player dies suddenly, the cause of death is often listed as a heart attack; he says. "But sometimes another player reports hearing the youth say, `I've been stung,' just before he collapsed."

To prevent such tragedies, Frazier launched a twopronged attack: to educate doctors, teachers, coaches, and others who are around young people about the lifesaving properties of epinephrine; and to legalize programs to prepare more people to inject the drug in life-threatening situations.

Seeking AMA support for a model bill, he told the organization's Board of Trustees, "I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that any one of you can walk out of this hotel, be stung, and die in five minutes-even if you've never had a previous reaction. The good news is that if a trained layman, such as a policeman, were allowed to give epinephrine, you'd be saved. …

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