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Following Patient Penicillin Allergy De-labeling, Pharmacy Records Aren’t Always Updated to Reflect Changes

AAAAI News Release

February 3, 2023

April Presnell, Media & Member Communications Manager
(414) 272-6071

New research to be presented at the 2023 AAAAI Annual Meeting finds frequent discrepancy in allergy records between healthcare institutions and their patients' pharmacies.

Milwaukee, WI - Findings being presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) are highlighting the need to identify and address barriers to successfully de-labeling penicillin allergy for patients – even after testing has been completed.

“Penicillin allergy labels are associated with increased healthcare cost burdens as well as adverse events for patients,” said Althea Marie Diaz, MD, primary author of the study. “Many patients carrying a penicillin allergy label can safely take penicillin, but even after allergy testing we’re finding those allergy labels aren’t always being removed.”

Researchers identified 78 charts of patients who were de-labeled of their penicillin allergies from May 2019 to May 2022. Any patient who had their penicillin allergy removed from their electronic medical record (EMR) were also provided with a wallet card. Letters were sent to patients’  primary care physicians and their pharmacy of choice. Follow-up was conducted via phone interviews with patients and pharmacies to determine if penicillin had been successfully de-labeled.

They found that while 99% of the charts were de-labeled in the system’s EMR, 31% of charts still had an active penicillin allergy listed with the pharmacy. During follow-up interviews with 68 patients, 97% of patients recalled they had received a negative penicillin allergy result. Since de-labeling, 44% of patients had taken penicillin, while 52% had not. Some patients - 4% - were still avoiding penicillin despite their negative allergy result.

“We’ve come a long way when it comes to de-labeling penicillin allergies, but we have a long way to go,” said Dr. Diaz. “We need to continue to examine what barriers are preventing us from completely de-labeling patients who can safely take penicillin and develop strategies to address those barriers.”

Visit to learn more about penicillin allergy. Research presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting, February 24-27 in San Antonio, Texas, is published in an online supplement to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is the leading membership organization of more than 7,100 allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. The AAAAI is the go-to resource for patients living with allergies, asthma and immune deficiency disorders. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 7,100 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.