Development and Validation of a Penicillin Allergy Clinical Decision Rule

JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Mar 16;180(5):1-9. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.0403. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Importance: Penicillin allergy is a significant public health issue for patients, antimicrobial stewardship programs, and health services. Validated clinical decision rules are urgently needed to identify low-risk penicillin allergies that potentially do not require penicillin skin testing by a specialist.

Objective: To develop and validate a penicillin allergy clinical decision rule that enables point-of-care risk assessment of patient-reported penicillin allergies.

Design, setting, and participants: In this diagnostic study, a multicenter prospective antibiotic allergy-tested cohort of 622 patients from 2 tertiary care sites in Melbourne, Australia (Austin Health and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) was used for derivation and internal validation of a penicillin allergy decision rule. Backward stepwise logistic regression was used to derive the model, including clinical variables predictive of a positive penicillin allergy test result. Internal validation of the final model used bootstrapped samples and the model scoring derived from the coefficients. External validation was performed in retrospective penicillin allergy-tested cohorts consisting of 945 patients from Sydney and Perth, Australia, and Nashville, Tennessee. Patients who reported a penicillin allergy underwent penicillin allergy testing using skin prick, intradermal, or patch testing and/or oral challenge (direct or after skin testing). Data were collected from June 26, 2008, to June 3, 2019, and analyzed from January 9 to 12, 2019.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome for the model was any positive result of penicillin allergy testing performed during outpatient or inpatient assessment.

Results: From an internal derivation and validation cohort of 622 patients (367 female [59.0%]; median age, 60 [interquartile range{IQR}, 48-71] years) and an external validation cohort of 945 patients (662 female [70.1%]; median age, 55 [IQR, 38-68] years), the 4 features associated with a positive penicillin allergy test result on multivariable analysis were summarized in the mnemonic PEN-FAST: penicillin allergy, five or fewer years ago, anaphylaxis/angioedema, severe cutaneous adverse reaction (SCAR), and treatment required for allergy episode. The major criteria included an allergy event occurring 5 or fewer years ago (2 points) and anaphylaxis/angioedema or SCAR (2 points); the minor criterion (1 point), treatment required for an allergy episode. Internal validation showed minimal mean optimism of 0.003 with internally validated area under the curve of 0.805. A cutoff of less than 3 points for PEN-FAST was chosen to classify a low risk of penicillin allergy, for which only 17 of 460 patients (3.7%) had positive results of allergy testing, with a negative predictive value of 96.3% (95% CI, 94.1%-97.8%). External validation resulted in similar findings.

Conclusions and relevance: In this study, PEN-FAST was found to be a simple rule that accurately identified low-risk penicillin allergies that do not require formal allergy testing. The results suggest that a PEN-FAST score of less than 3, associated with a high negative predictive value, could be used by clinicians and antimicrobial stewardship programs to identify low-risk penicillin allergies at the point of care.