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Do You Have a Penicillin Allergy? You Might Not!

It's National Penicillin Allergy Day! Who knew?

I saw this in my newsfeed and thought that was a staggering number!

But :

“The survey showed us there is a lack of understanding among internists and general practitioners regarding the need for testing the large numbers of people who report penicillin allergy but have never been tested,” says Dipekka Soni, MD, lead author of the study. “Unfortunately, specialty physicians and non-internal medicine physicians had an even lower rate of referring those with reported penicillin allergy to an allergist for testing, 93 percent and 88 percent respectively.”

About 10 percent of Americans carry a label of penicillin allergy, and others have an “allergic history” to other antibiotics. As a result, they are often prescribed more toxic, dangerous and expensive antibiotics that might not be necessary. ”More than 90 percent of patients with a penicillin allergy can tolerate penicillin-like antibiotics, yet our survey showed that only 30 percent of the physicians responding to the survey knew that,” added infectious diseases pharmacist Mary Staicu, PharmD, study co-author.

“Our research found a poor understanding of penicillin allergy among non-allergists,” says allergist Allison Ramsey, MD, study co-author and ACAAI member. “Less than half of those surveyed understood that a penicillin allergy can resolve over time. Only 20 percent identified appropriate patients for penicillin skin testing from the descriptions provided.”

I know my dad had a penicillin allergy in his chart, but I have no idea if he was ever tested and I suspect not.

If you have a penicillin allergy, have you been tested to confirm it?

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Comments 2

  • Jen

    Interesting.  DH and DD1 have one (according to doctors who have witnessed reactions).  They haven't been tested, though.

  • K8sMom2002

    My mom had an anaphylactic reaction to penicillin. That was enough to convince her doctor. 

    She also had a reaction to morphine — which I'd never heard of, but apparently it's not unheard of. 

    After a severe reaction to phenergan when I was little, my mom was told by doctors to never give me phenergan again. I haven't chanced it, but it has made treating my nausea extremely difficult over the years.