The Robyn Allen Leadership Award recognizes an individual who has made a unique contribution to the lives of Canadians with food allergy through their efforts in education, advocacy, community building, leadership, or fundraising.
We are excited to feature this year’s winner, Dr. Waleed Alqurashi, pediatric emergency physician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and investigator at the CHEO Research Institute, in Ottawa.
We spoke with Dr. Alqurashi further on this award and his commitment to improving anaphylaxis education and treatment.
Congratulations Dr. Alqurashi on the well-deserved award! You have accomplished so much to help advance the treatment of pediatric anaphylaxis and care of patients – tell us about the initiatives you’ve undertaken.
Thank you! First, I just want to say that I’m very honoured and deeply humbled to receive the Robyn Allen Leadership Award. I am really inspired by the legacy created by Marilyn and Bob Allen to honour Robyn’s life by recognizing and advocating for food allergy and anaphylaxis.
I’m interested in allergy and anaphylaxis on both personal and scientific levels. As an emergency physician, I understand the gaps in original research and clinical practice. Unfortunately, there is lots of confusion about the management of anaphylaxis by both healthcare providers and patients or their caregivers. So, I devoted my effort over the past several years to bridge these gaps. The gaps are huge, and we still have a lot of work to do.
Which of these are the most significant for you?
People who work with me know that I like to practice sensible medicine, which has three key elements. Sensible medicine is a gentle medicine based on a moderate and humble view of available treatment options; it relies on scientific rigour by focusing on what works and reducing unnecessary interventions. Effective knowledge translation strategies that help advance understanding are critical for promoting sensible medicine.
Therefore, promoting scientific rigours by conducting research to address questions that significantly impact healthcare delivery and patient quality of life, and knowledge dissemination to both healthcare providers and patients, are important to me.
How are you involved with the TREKK (Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids) network and improving emergency care for children?
TREKK is a national centre of excellence aimed at bringing evidence-based pediatric emergency care to general emergency departments across Canada. Dr. Anne Ellis and I are the anaphylaxis Content Advisors for TREKK. In this role, we have contributed practice tools that are designed for health professionals. My anaphylaxis education tools for patients and families are linked at the TREKK website. I’m also a member of the TREKK Editorial Board. I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the TREKK mission and work with committed and leading healthcare providers. Indeed, we are fortunate in Canada to have such a robust network dedicated to knowledge dissemination.
You were recently awarded a grant for a national study on biphasic anaphylaxis – can you tell us more about this research and the importance of it?
There is ambiguity in how physicians manage anaphylaxis which adds a huge burden to healthcare and contributes to emergency department (ED) crowding. Most international treatment guidelines recommend that all patients present to the ED for a prolonged period (6-24 hours) of in-hospital monitoring after initial reactions have been treated to increase detection of biphasic anaphylaxis (BA). BA is a second wave of symptoms after the first reaction has resolved. These guidelines are based on limited evidence and have unintended negative impacts on patient safety and quality of life. Furthermore, this ‘one-size fits all’ approach to care leads to wasteful resource utilization that provides low-value care.
The Canadian Anaphylaxis Network is a prospective multicentre study that will enroll patients from six centres that are part of the PERC (Pediatric Emergency Research Canada) network to estimate the incidence of BA accurately and derive a robust prediction model so that children at high risk are monitored appropriately, whereas those at no or low risk can be discharged from the ED once they became asymptomatic (show no symptoms). The Canadian Institute of Health Research funded the study, and our team includes an international multidisciplinary team of experts. We have also established an advisory council comprised of individuals and community partners, such as Food Allergy Canada, external to the project team to monitor project milestones.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Again, I want to thank the Allen family for this great honour. And I want to conclude by expressing my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the entire team at Food Allergy Canada for the outstanding work they are doing to promote knowledge and supporting public policies around food allergy and anaphylaxis.