Did you know that although penicillin allergy is the most commonly reported drug allergy in the United States, up to 90% of patients labeled as “penicillin allergic” can actually tolerate penicillin after undergoing testing? Did you know that penicillin allergy is not necessarily permanent and that many patients “lose” their allergy to penicillin over time? Did you know that you can be allergic to one type of penicillin but not necessarily allergic to another?
Evaluating your patients for a true allergy may significantly impact your practice. Properly labeling patients may allow you to offer an antibiotic that is the indicated treatment for many conditions you diagnosis everyday as well as be easier for your patients to tolerate. When a patient is mislabeled as penicillin allergic, the ramifications are significant, including everything from increasing costs to the health care system from the use of more expensive alternative antibiotics to being unable to receive a whole class of potential life-saving antibiotics. In addition, physicians tend to be fearful about giving these patients other classes of potentially cross-reactive antibiotics, even though rates of cross-reactivity are generally very low.
Whether or not you perform other types of allergy testing, you can make a big impact in your patients’ lives by learning more about penicillin allergy and why to consider testing for it.
- Review the history of penicillin and Type 1 IgE mediated hypersensitivity reactions to penicillin
- Outline the benefits to offering penicillin allergy testing in an Otolaryngology practice
- Discuss the implications on patients that are mislabeled with a penicillin hypersensitivity