Epinephrine auto-injector versus drawn up epinephrine for anaphylaxis management: A scoping review

Nnenna O. Chime, Victoria G. Riese, Daniel J. Scherzer, Julianne S. Perretta, Leann McNamara, Michael A. Rosen, Elizabeth A. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening event. Most clinical symptoms of anaphylaxis can be reversed by prompt intramuscular administration of epinephrine using an auto-injector or epinephrine drawn up in a syringe and delays and errors may be fatal. The aim of this scoping review is to identify and compare errors associated with use of epinephrine drawn up in a syringe versus epinephrine auto-injectors in order to assist hospitals as they choose which approach minimizes risk of adverse events for their patients. Data Sources: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched using terms agreed to a priori. Study Selection: We reviewed human and simulation studies reporting errors associated with the use of epinephrine in anaphylaxis. There were multiple screening stages with evolving feedback. Data Extraction: Each study was independently assessed by two reviewers for eligibility. Data were extracted using an instrument modeled from the Zaza et al instrument and grouped into themes. Data Synthesis: Three main themes were noted: 1) ergonomics, 2) dosing errors, and 3) errors due to route of administration. Significant knowledge gaps in the operation of epinephrine auto-injectors among healthcare providers, patients, and caregivers were identified. For epinephrine in a syringe, there were more frequent reports of incorrect dosing and erroneous IV administration with associated adverse cardiac events. For the epinephrine auto-injector, unintentional administration to the digit was an error reported on multiple occasions. Conclusions: This scoping review highlights knowledge gaps and a diverse set of errors regardless of the approach to epinephrine preparation during management of anaphylaxis. There are more potentially life-threatening errors reported for epinephrine drawn up in a syringe than with the auto-injectors. The impact of these knowledge gaps and potentially fatal errors on patient outcomes, cost, and quality of care is worthy of further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-769
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Anaphylaxis
  • Epinephrine auto-injector
  • Intramuscular epinephrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Epinephrine auto-injector versus drawn up epinephrine for anaphylaxis management: A scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this