Implementation of a pharmacist-led penicillin allergy de-labelling service in a public hospital

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2019 May 1;74(5):1438-1446. doi: 10.1093/jac/dky575.


Background: Inaccurate allergy labelling results in inappropriate antimicrobial management of the patient, which may affect clinical outcome, increase the risk of adverse events and increase costs. Inappropriate use of alternative antibiotics has implications for antimicrobial stewardship programmes and microbial resistance.

Methods: All adult inpatients labelled as penicillin allergic were identified and screened for eligibility by the study pharmacist. An accurate allergy and medication history was taken. Patients were 'de-labelled', underwent oral challenge or were referred to an immunology clinic, if study criteria were met. All patients included in the study were followed-up 1 year after intervention.

Results: Two hundred and fifty eligible patients with a label of 'penicillin allergy' were identified. The prevalence of reported penicillin allergy at Middlemore Hospital was 11%. We found that 80% of study patients could be 'de-labelled'. Of those, 80% were 'de-labelled' after an interview with the pharmacist alone, 16% had an uneventful oral challenge and 4% were deemed to be inappropriately labelled after referral to an immunology clinic. Appropriately labelled patients accounted for 20% of the study population. Changes to inpatient antibiotic therapy were recommended in 61% of 'de-labelled' patients, of which no patients had adverse events after commencing on penicillin antibiotics. At the 1 year follow-up, 98% of patients who were 'de-labelled' had no adverse events to repeated administration of penicillin antibiotics.

Conclusions: This study showed that a pharmacist-led allergy management service is a safe option to promote antimicrobial stewardship and appropriate allergy labelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't