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, 29 (5), 509-515

De-labelling Self-Reported Penicillin Allergy Within the Emergency Department Through the Use of Skin Tests and Oral Drug Provocation Testing

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De-labelling Self-Reported Penicillin Allergy Within the Emergency Department Through the Use of Skin Tests and Oral Drug Provocation Testing

Joseph Marwood et al. Emerg Med Australas.

Abstract

Objective: Self-reported penicillin allergy is common among patients attending the ED, but is a poor predictor of true immunoglobulin E-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillin. We hypothesise that with a combination of skin testing and drug provocation testing, selected patients can be safely de-labelled of their allergy.

Methods: This prospective study enrolled a sample of patients presenting to an urban academic ED between 2011 and 2016 with a self-reported allergy to penicillin. Standardised skin prick and intradermal testing with amoxicillin and both major and minor determinants of penicillin was performed in the department. If negative, testing was followed by a graded oral challenge of amoxicillin over 9 days. The primary end point was the allergy status of participants at the end of the study.

Results: A total of 100 patients (mean age 42; standard deviation 14 years; 54% women) completed the testing. Of these, 81% (95% confidence interval 71.9-88.2) showed no hypersensitivity to penicillin and were labelled non-allergic. The majority (16/19) of allergies were confirmed by skin testing, with three suspected allergies detected by the oral challenge. Women were more likely than men to have a true penicillin allergy, with odds ratio of 4.0 (95% confidence interval 1.23-13.2). There were no serious adverse events.

Conclusion: Selected patients in the ED who self-report an allergy to penicillin can be safely tested there for penicillin allergy, using skin tests and oral drug provocation testing. This testing allows a significant de-labelling of penicillin allergy, with the majority of these patients able to tolerate penicillin without incident.

Keywords: allergy; emergency medicine; hypersensitivity; penicillin; skin test.

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