Are You Really Allergic to Penicillin?

Are You Really Allergic to Penicillin?

According to recent studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, people who believe they have a penicillin allergy would benefit from consultation from an allergist and penicillin allergy skin testing. Once they know if they are allergic, they can be given appropriate – and not more resistant – treatment prior to surgery. The first study (1)found that of the people who believed they were allergic to penicillin, 94 percent tested negative for penicillin allergy. The second study (2) demonstrated that once patients are known not to be allergic to penicillin, physicians were able to change the medications of the patients, thereby significantly lowering prescription costs. The third study (3) showed that being labeled as allergic to penicillin is associated with important health and financial consequences. They found that these patients had longer lengths of stay, more use of broad spectrum antibiotics, and more complications such as drug- resistant and Clostridium difficile infections.

If you are not sure whether you had a true allergic reaction to penicillin or a distant history of a penicillin reaction, consider scheduling an evaluation with an Allergy Immunology specialist. 

References:
1. Pongdee T, Thethi A, Rodrigues E, Irizarry Alvardo J. Improving surgical antibiotic options

with penicillin allergy testing. Ann Allergy 2014; 113 (5) Supplement 1: A3

2. Pratt R, Romanova A, Greenbaum J, Cyr M. Reconciliation of health outcomes following penicillin allergy testing of hospitalized patients. Ann Allergy November 2014;113 (5) Supplement 1: A102

3. Macy E, Contreras R. Health care use and serious infection prevalence associated with penicillin ‘‘allergy’’ in hospitalized patients: A cohort study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014; 133 (3): 790-6.

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