Penicillin Allergy Testing
Many patients who were told in the past that s/he was allergic to penicillin actually are not. Penicillin testing can prevent long hospitalizations, high medical costs, decrease the risk for adverse effects of alternative antibiotics, and decrease the rate of serious antibiotic resistant infections such as C. difficile and MRSA. The testing is safe and effective. It consists of skin testing and oral administration of amoxicillin or penicillin pending negative skin test results.
A NOTE FROM DR. STARK:
ALLERGIC TO PENICILLIN? MAYBE YOU REALLY AREN’T.
I have been in private practice medicine since 1986 specializing in Ear, Nose, and
Throat with Fellowship training in Allergy. During that time I have encountered countless numbers of patients who tell me that he or she is allergic to one or more medicines. And by far, the most common medication patients list as causing allergy is Penicillin.
Recent studies have confirmed this surprising fact: APPROXIMATELY 90% OF PATIENTS WHO WERE TOLD IN THE PAST HE OR SHE WAS ALLERGIC TO PENICILLIN ACTUALLY ARE NOT.
Penicillin is still a very effective antibiotic for many routine infections in the body such as sinusitis, tonsillitis, or ear infections. It is a very safe medication with minimal side effects and is relatively inexpensive. Some newer and more potent antibiotics reserved for more life threatening infections are actually forms of Penicillin. Situations can and do occur where a form of Penicillin is the best drug to give a patient. Doctors or other providers are simply not going to prescribe it if there is a chance of it causing an allergic reaction.
So, determining if a person is truly allergic to Penicillin is important in trying to maintain his or her health. Without testing, an unverified history of penicillin allergy can contribute to longer hospitalizations, higher costs, and increased rates of serious antibiotic resistant infections such as C. difficile and MRSA. Fortunately there is a quick, accurate, safe, and reliable way to answer this issue. It involves skin testing. And, it can be done in my office.
The test takes just about an hour and is covered by both Medicare and the major health insurance plans.
If you or someone in your family has been told not to take Penicillin because of allergic reaction in the past, I strongly advise this simple and safe test to see if that is truly the case.
To your health,
Tom Stark, M.D.