Antimicrobial stewardship's new weapon? A review of antibiotic allergy and pathways to 'de-labeling'

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2013 Dec;26(6):526-37. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000006.


Purpose of review: The continued emergence of multiresistant pathogens and widespread antimicrobial use has led to a greater emphasis on antimicrobial stewardship programs. Concurrently, an increased awareness of the rising number of antibiotic allergy labels and impact on antimicrobial use has surfaced. The integration of antibiotic allergy de-labeling and antimicrobial stewardship programs may be a pathway worthy of further focus and investigation.

Recent findings: Recent literature has evaluated the efficacy of antibiotic allergy management (historical de-labeling, in-vitro testing, skin prick testing, intradermal testing, and oral challenges) and impact of antibiotic allergy labels on patient outcome. The importance of true and perceived antibiotic allergy cross-reactivity in the setting of β-lactam allergies has been highlighted. The impact of dedicated antibiotic allergy de-labeling clinics, inpatient antibiotic allergy testing, and integrated antimicrobial stewardship programs has been recently appraised.

Summary: More recent literature supports that appropriate antibiotic allergy in-vitro and in-vivo testing and subsequent antibiotic allergy de-labeling, particularly in regard to β-lactams, can decrease broad-spectrum antibiotic use, costs, patient length of stay, and mortality. Integration of antibiotic allergy management into the decision support systems of inpatient and outpatient antimicrobial stewardship programs represents an important opportunity to further improve measured outcomes from antibiotic utilization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / immunology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents