Reported penicillin allergy rarely reflects penicillin intolerance. Failure to address inpatient penicillin allergies results in more broad-spectrum antibiotic use, treatment failures, and adverse drug events.Objective
We aimed to determine the optimal approach to penicillin allergies among medical inpatients.Methods
We evaluated internal medicine inpatients reporting penicillin allergy in 3 periods: (1) standard of care (SOC), (2) penicillin skin testing (ST), and (3) computerized guideline application with decision support (APP). The primary outcome was use of a penicillin or cephalosporin, comparing interventions to SOC using multivariable logistic regression.Results
There were 625 patients: SOC, 148; ST, 278; and APP, 199. Of 278 ST patients, 179 (64%) were skin test eligible; 43 (24%) received testing and none were allergic. In the APP period, there were 292 unique Web site views; 112 users (38%) completed clinical decision support. Although ST period patients did not have increased odds of penicillin or cephalosporin use overall (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.3; 95% CI, 0.8-2.0), we observed significant increased odds of penicillin or cephalosporin use overall in the APP period (aOR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1-2.9) and in a per-protocol analysis of the skin tested subset (aOR, 5.7; 95% CI, 2.6-12.5).Conclusions
Both APP and ST—when completed—increased the use of penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics among inpatients reporting penicillin allergy. While the skin tested subset showed an almost 6-fold impact, the computerized guideline significantly increased penicillin or cephalosporin use overall nearly 2-fold and was readily implemented.