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Why is it important to get tested for a penicillin allergy?

Why is it important to get tested for a penicillin allergy?

English Transcript

Allergist Allison Ramsey, MD: It’s important to get tested for penicillin allergy because chances are you are not allergic to penicillin. So it is the most commonly associated drug allergy, it’s about 10% of the United States population.

When people are evaluated, it turns out that 90 to 95% of people will tolerate a penicillin-based antibiotic after an evaluation by an allergist. And it’s important to be evaluated because penicillins are first-line therapy for many inpatient and outpatient infections. If you avoid penicillin when it’s otherwise indicated, you’re at risk for worse outcomes for an infection and also increased side effects from second-line antibiotics.

There’s also public health implications where the avoidance of penicillins, if they’re otherwise indicated, can contribute to increased resistance by other bacteria and other side effects, along with increased health care costs.

The good news is that most people can be tested for penicillin without actually having to undergo skin testing. The vast majority of people can be delabeled with just a challenge, where they’re just taking an antibiotic by mouth in an allergist’s office.

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