Create a lifesaving kit to treat bee stings

ED nurses at Mecosta County General Hospital, a 78-bed hospital in Big Rapids, MI, took quick action when a man came in yelling that his wife, who was still in the car, had been stung by bees and was allergic.

"I grabbed a bee sting kit from the cupboard and headed for the driveway," says Pam McGrath, RN, the ED nurse who created the kit when she worked at Mecosta County General Hospital.

When McGrath arrived, the woman was barely conscious, ashen, diaphoretic, and dyspneic. "I already had the kit open and the saline lock primed. In seconds, the intravenous line [IV] was in, and epinephrine and Benadryl [diphenhydramine hydrochloride] were on board," she recalls. "By then we had enough help to lift this woman to the stretcher, hang an IV, and attach the monitors."

The woman survived, but the outcome could have been worse if more time had elapsed, says McGrath. "I was very grateful to have the IV line in and medications started even before we had the manpower to hoist her onto a stretcher."

The bee sting kit saves valuable time, especially for rural hospitals, she notes. "We have many resorts and outlying youth camps," she says. "People often were already in a full-blown reaction by the time they reached us."

A resealable plastic bag is filled with saline lock, pre-filled saline flushes, gloves, alcohol prep pads, tourniquet, epinephrine, diphenhydramine, and syringes. After a kit is opened, the contents are restocked from the ED’s automated medication dispenser unit, which ensures that the medications and supplies are properly billed for.

"I have used the kit numerous times and have always found it to be a time- and step-saver," says McGrath.

In the above scenario, having the pre-assembled kit allowed McGrath to administer lifesaving drugs without leaving the patient’s side. "It saved me from having to go to the IV cupboard, out to the medication cart, and grab the appropriate syringes," she says. "When seconds count, the sooner you are able to access an IV site and start the treatment, the better."

[Editor’s note: For more information, contact Pam McGrath, RN, 87 Niles Road, Amston, CT 06231. Phone: (860) 228-8420. E-mail:]