How dangerous could a misdiagnosed Penicillin allergy be?
Clinicians at Massachusetts General Hospital and Kaiser Permanente with the collaboration of The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), and The Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) were tasked with commissioning a review on the evidence of misdiagnosed allergies to the popular and most successful antibiotic, Penicillin. According to a review published in JAMA most patients who report having an allergy to penicillin, in fact, do not. The rate in which patients are misdiagnosed with an allergy to penicillin and beta-Lactam results in millions of individuals not receiving the best medical care available to them.
Exactly how significant is this misdiagnosis? Well in simple terms, it restricts patients from receiving an antibiotic that is both most successful in treating infections and less expensive than alternative broad-spectrum antibiotics.
- Roughly 32 million people in the United States report being allergic to the common antibiotic
- Of these 32 million people, it is reported that over 95 percent do not have an allergy to Penicillin or beta-Lactam
These 32 million people are subject to possibly suffering the outcome of adverse outcomes of alternative broad-spectrum antibiotics, including but not limited to, Clostridium difficile infection and the evolution of antimicrobial resistance.
If you are an individual, who believes they may have an allergy to Penicillin, it is recommended to have an evaluation. If you have a documented case of an allergy to Penicillin, it is important to talk to your doctor. The best time to do this is when you are well and not in need of antibiotics. If you are one of the 95 percent of individuals misdiagnosed with this allergy you are being deprived of the best option available, not only in terms of success rates, but in terms of finances and possible side effects attributed to other antibiotics.