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Drug Safety Clinic

Critical message:

Due to COVID-19, the Drug Safety closed for a few months, so all our previously scheduled appointments have been delayed. This means that all appointments made with the Drug Safety Clinic before March 31, 2020 have been cancelled and will be rescheduled to a later date. These cancelled appointments had been scheduled to the end of December 2021.

We will contact you to reschedule your appointment. At this point, we cannot offer you a new appointment date, but it will likely be several months from the original date.

If you feel your situation is urgent, or have any questions or concerns, please contact our office. See the “Location and Contact” information that appears to the right of this message.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If we have contacted you to schedule an appointment since our clinic re-opened in August 2020, that appointment will go ahead as scheduled.


– Message updated November 10, 2020



Critical message:

Sunnybrook’s Drug Safety Clinic is temporarily unable to accept new referrals from outside Sunnybrook in order to address a backlog of previously-referred patients.

The following is a list of Toronto area physicians who assess drug-related allergies and who you may wish to contact. This list is being provided to you for your reference only. Sunnybrook is not recommending any particular service provider on the list and there may be other physicians available to provide similar services.

Dr. Karen Binkley
204 – 30 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto
Phone: 416-960-7010, Fax: 416-968-9497

Dr. Christine Song
St. Michael’s Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto
Phone: 416-864-3056, Fax: 416-864-6046

Dr. Peter Vadas
St. Michael’s Hospital, 36 Toronto Street, Suite 700a, Toronto
Phone: 416-864-5777, Fax: 416-864-3033

» Making an appointment – Referral from your doctor

To be seen at the Drug Safety Clinic you will need a referral from your doctor. Your doctor should fax the referral form to 416-480-5229. (Note: please see the critical message above – we are currently not accepting new referrals from outside Sunnybrook).

» Appointments at the Drug Safety Clinic

  1. Initial appointment: virtual consultation appointment

    After we receive your doctor's referral, we will contact you to set up a virtual (telephone) consultation appointment. This will be an approximately 15-30 minute telephone visit with our physician specialist. Please have a list of your current medications ready for the interview, as well as details about the reaction(s) you had and the names of suspected medications.

    Our physician will:

    • review your drug allergy history with you (please be ready to discuss details of your reaction(s) and the names of suspected medications;
    • ask you for a list of your current medications and medical conditions (please have a list of your current medications ready for the interview)
    • discuss with you:
      • whether drug allergy testing is recommended for you;
      • what your testing will involve (e.g., skin test, oral challenge drug dose) and the name of the testing drug(s);
      • which of your medications, if any, to stop before coming your testing appointment, and when to stop them.

  2. Testing appointment(s)

    During your consultation appointment, our doctor may offer you drug allergy testing. Someone from our staff will contact you to book a testing appointment.

    Our testing appointments now consists of two steps:

    • An initial virtual (telephone) appointment with our clinic physician to review your drug allergy history, medical conditions and current list of medications, and to screen you for symptoms of COVID-19. As it has often been many months since your initial consultation interview, it is necessary for our physician to update this information. If our physician decides that drug allergy testing is appropriate for you, he/she will also review with you what your testing will involve and will tell you which of your medications (if any) to stop before your testing appointment.
    • If you are a candidate for testing, our administrative staff will contact you to book the in-person testing appointment at our clinic.

For testing, you will be at our clinic for approximately three hours from the scheduled time of your appointment (this includes time waiting for testing and any delays), then you will be discharged by our clinic physician.


» Cancelling or rescheduling your appointment

To cancel or reschedule your appointment, please contact us at least 48 hours beforehand. That way, we can offer that appointment time to another patient.
Please contact our administration team at drugsafety@sunnybrook.ca or 416-480-6100 x3061. The best times to call are Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you don’t reach us live, please leave a voicemail.

» Location and parking

View our map for information on how to get to Sunnybrook if you are driving or taking public transit. 

The Drug Safety Clinic is located on the ground floor, in the U-wing, at UG 0a, desk 4.

If you are driving, park at the M-wing or U-wing of the hospital. To get to the U-wing parking lot, enter the main hospital campus and follow the signs to Emergency (this takes you behind the hospital). Go past Emergency until you see the signs for U-wing. Visit our Bayview Campus Parking page for more information about campus parking, including parking rates.

If you are taking public transit, take the Yonge-University subway line to the Lawrence Avenue station (located at Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue). Get on bus #124, which takes will do a loop through the hospital grounds. Get off at the second hospital stop, which is the Main entrance. Once inside the doors of the main entrance, ask for directions to the U-wing, ground floor.

How to get to our clinic and wheelchair assistance

Enter the hospital via the M-wing or D-wing. You will be screened at the entrance and asked questions to make sure that you do not have COVID-19. You will be provided with a mask as well as a PASS sticker that permits you to enter the hospital that day. View our map for more information on designated COVID-19 entrances.  

Walk to our clinic on the ground floor, U-wing of the hospital. If you need wheelchair assistance, go to the Patient Transport Service area just inside the main entrance (M-wing) of the hospital, and ask for a porter to bring you to our clinic via wheelchair. If you enter the hospital via the D-wing, ask the screener for assistance.

» Can I bring a family member or companion with me?

Due to COVID-19, family members or companions are not permitted to accompany patients to their appointments except in certain circumstances (e.g., if the patient has mobility issues, a significant language or cognitive barrier, or is under the age of 18), but can be in touch with patients by phone or another electronic device.

Let us know if you need to bring someone to the appointment for these or other reasons. Provide the name, phone number and email address of the companion as well as reason you want them to accompany you. We will submit this information in writing to senior administration, for approval. We need at least 48 hours notice prior to the actual testing appointment.

Translator: If a translator is required, please contact us at least one week before the appointment so we can book a translator.

» Telephone screening within 24 hours of your testing appointment

Our staff will call patients within 24 hours of their appointment to pre-screen for symptoms of COVID-19.

» Checking in for an appointment

When you arrive at the U-wing, walk to desk 4 and check in with our administrative staff. They will ask for your health card, so have the card ready to show them. We will also ask screening questions to make sure that you do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Once you have checked in, we will escort you to a clinic room, where you will remain until your testing is complete and you are discharged by our doctor.

» What happens at a drug testing appointment?

The doctor will meet with you briefly to discuss the testing you will receive, and will review the risks and benefits of testing, then ask you to sign an informed consent form so we can proceed with testing.

Our doctor or nurse will take your vital signs (blood pressure, pulse and breathing sounds, blood oxygen).

You will then receive your drug test. The type of testing we offer depends on the drug class and on your drug allergy history. Testing usually involves skin testing and/or challenge doses of the drug. The doctor will have discussed the type of testing you will receive during the telephone call you had with him/her prior to your testing appointment at our clinic.

» Discharge once testing is complete

Once your testing is complete, you will be discharged by our doctor, who will write a reporting letter to your physician(s) about the test results.

If you are allergic to a medication, we will tell you which drug(s) to avoid and may provide handouts. In some cases, we may recommend further testing. After you have completed all testing appointments at our clinic, we will recommend a medical identification bracelet that shows any medication allergy.

» Possible reactions to testing

Reactions while at the clinic:

Local reactions, which usually present as redness and swelling at the injection site, can occur either immediately or several hours or even a few days after skin testing.

Systemic (whole body) reactions are less common than local reactions. Systemic reactions are usually mild and respond rapidly to medications, such as antihistamines. Symptoms can include nasal congestion, hives or sneezing. A serious systemic reaction, called anaphylaxis, may occur extremely rarely after skin testing or oral challenge. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include hives, swelling, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and other symptoms.

The staff at the Drug Safety Clinic is trained to monitor and treat such reactions.

Reactions after you leave the clinic:

Although rare, it is possible for you to have a reaction after leaving our clinic. Be alert for any unusual symptoms that occur up to 48 hours later, which could be related to the medication you received at our clinic. If the symptoms are severe or getting worse, go to a hospital emergency department or walk-in clinic to see a physician to be assessed and treated. Contact us and if possible, email us photos that show any reaction, at drugsafety@sunnybrook.ca. We will get back you, counsel you about future medication options, and where appropriate we will write a further letter to your physician(s).


» Frequently asked questions

» How should I dress?

Dress in layers, as it may be hot/cold in the clinic area, and temperatures may change throughout the day.

Wear a loose, short-sleeved top made of stretchy fabric that is easy to roll up, as skin tests are given in the upper arm area very near the shoulder. Dark colours are preferable, as some patients may bleed slightly at the injection site.

Do not wear any lotion on your arms or shoulders, as this could make it more difficult to administer skin testing.

Do not wear perfume or scented products, as Sunnybrook is a fragrance-free hospital.

» Can I eat before or during my appointment at the clinic?

Absolutely! Eat or drink as usual before and during the clinic. Eat a regular breakfast before coming for testing and bring a snack/lunch with you.

» Where can I get food at the hospital?

Food can be purchased from a number of locations throughout the hospital, although during the COVID-19 pandemic, these locations may change.

We encourage you to bring your own food to your appointment. For your safety, we ask you to remain in the clinic area at all times during testing.

» Are there washrooms nearby?

There are two washrooms, right next to our main office area, behind a wood panel.

To access, press on the large silver button outside the washroom. The door will open slowly, and will then close slowly. When you are inside the washroom and the door has closed, push the red button near the toilet to lock the door.

» What should I bring?

You are at our clinic to be tested for drug sensitivity and part of this testing includes being available to us so we can monitor you. Accordingly, we ask you to remain in the clinic area for your entire approximately three hour appointment.

Consider bringing a good book, electronic devices (iPad, laptop, etc). Sunnybrook has free Wifi.

» Can I take my usual medications before I come to the appointment?

Generally, you can take your usual medications unless we have asked you to stop them on the day of testing, or for a few days before the testing. Certain drugs interfere with our testing:
  • Antihistamines: Stop three to five days before coming in for testing. Examples: Bilastine (Blexten®), Brompheniramine, Cetirizine (Reactine®), Chlorpheniramine, Desloratadine (Aerius®), Dimenhydrinate (Gravol®), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), Doxylamine, Fexofenadine (Allegra®), Hydroxyzine (Atarax®), Loratadine (Claritin®), Ranitidine (Zantac®), Rupatadine (Rupall®). Antihistamines may also be ingredients in cough & cold products and over-the-counter sleep aids.
  • If you are taking a beta-blockers and/or ACE inhibitor for any reason, make sure you have spoken with our physician before coming to our clinic for testing, as there are special recommendations concerning these medications.
    • Beta-blockers include Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Labetalol, Metoprolol, Propranolol – there are several other drugs in this class
    • o ACE inhibitors include Captopril, Enalopril, Perindopril, Ramipril – there are several other drugs in this class
    • If you are not sure whether you are taking a beta-blocker or ACE inhibitor, contact us at least a week before your testing appointment.
Do not stop your other medications, including asthma medications, before coming for testing.

If you have any questions about which of your medications to stop prior to testing – contact us at least a week before your testing appointment.

» Out of town patients

If you are travelling from out of town to attend a drug testing appointment, you may be eligible to have some of your travel costs reimbursed through the Northern Health Travel Grant Program.

You can access travel grant forms on the Government of Ontario website.

If you qualify for this program, please bring a completed form with you and speak with our administrative team, who will fill in our clinic information for you.

» Our team

Division head:

Physicians:

  • Dr. Karen Binkley
  • Dr. Baruch Jakubovic
  • Dr. Yasmin Moolani Merchant
  • Dr. Lori Shapiro

Nurse:

  • Position vacant

Administrative assistant:

  • Asmaa Gureye

Pharmacist/clinic manager:

Location and contact

Drug Safety Clinic

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue,
U-wing, ground floor, room UG 00, desk 4
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-6100 ext. 3061
Fax: 416-480-5229
drugsafety
@sunnybrook.ca

Referral form

Sunnybrook clinicians can download the referral form on Sunnynet