Beta-lactam antibiotic test doses in the emergency department

World Allergy Organ J. 2020 Jan 7;13(1):100093. doi: 10.1016/j.waojou.2019.100093. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Background: Facilitating beta-lactam antibiotic use in patients reporting beta-lactam allergies in acute care settings is important to individual patient outcomes and public health; however, few initiatives have targeted the Emergency Department (ED) setting.

Methods: We implemented pathways for patients reporting prior penicillin and/or cephalosporin hypersensitivity as part of a hospital guideline in the ED of a large academic medical center in the United States. We described beta-lactam test doses, pathway compliance, hypersensitivity reactions (HSRs), and allergy record updating associated with ED-administered beta-lactam test doses from October 2016 to June 2018.

Results: 310 beta-lactam antibiotic test doses were administered to patients with penicillin and/or cephalosporin allergy histories in the study period (average volume 15/month [standard deviation 4]). Test doses were to cephalosporins (85%), penicillins (12%), and carbapenems (4%). 219 (71%) of test doses were compliant with the pathways. Ten patients (3.2%; 95% CI 1.6%-5.9%) had HSRs; five HSR patients (50%) had beta-lactams administered that were not pathway compliant. The allergy record was updated in 146 (47%) of patients, with improvement over the study period (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Inpatient approaches to prescribing beta-lactams in patients reporting beta-lactam allergies can be operationalized in the ED. Additional efforts are required to ensure guideline compliance and appropriate allergy documentation.

Keywords: Acute; CI, confidence interval; Challenge; ED, emergency department; EHR, electronic health record; HSR, hypersensitivity reaction; Hypersensitivity; PST, penicillin skin testing; Penicillin.