In the hospital

Avoiding corn in hospitals and clinics is rather difficult: most medical staff do not know which medications or other medical products contain corn, and are skeptical of being told of an allergy to dextrose.

Patients must explain corn allergies to everybody caring for them

  • It is up to each patient to inform staff about which products contain corn and which do not.
  • A single patient may be seen by many nurses, doctors, interns, residents, food servers and other staff members. Explaining corn allergy to each person can take a lot of talking!
    • I have found that a hospital-issued allergy wrist band with “DEXTROSE” written on it in huge letters, as well as paper signs next to the hospital bed saying “ALLERGIC to DEXTROSE,” are good for getting attention or starting the conversation.

Medical staff often don’t read patient records

Unfortunately, patients don’t always get the chance to discuss corn allergies with medical staff. When a patient is not fully alert, or in an emergency situation, medical staff follow standard procedures. The sad part is that medical staff generally — in my experience — do not check patient records for allergies or look at MedicAlert bracelets.

  • I wish I could say that medical staff always check patient records, but I’ve been prescribed several drugs that my records state quite clearly are allergens for me. I avoided severe reactions only by recognizing the drug names and types, alerting the staff to my allergies, and refusing to take the medications until my chart was checked.
  • My MedicAlert bracelet also mentions that I have multiple food and drug allergies, and my MedicAlert record includes all the names for corn derivatives, but no medical worker has ever asked to look at it or looked at it when I was incapacitated — and I was given the wrong drugs and/or corn several times as a result.
        • Despite these bad experiences, my personal opinion is that MedicAlert bracelets still may be useful. They are not expensive and they last a long time — they’re like insurance.

This problem of medical staff not following “standard” procedures is difficult to solve, and hospitals around the world are trying to fix it. In the meantime, the best bet for a patient with corn allergy is to go to the hospital with a close friend or family member who can communicate with the staff even when the patient is sedated or otherwise unable to communicate.