BACKGROUND: Penicillin allergy is commonly reported in the pediatric emergency department (ED). True penicillin allergy is rare, yet the diagnosis results from the denial of first-line antibiotics. We hypothesize that all children presenting to the pediatric ED with symptoms deemed to be low-risk for immunoglobulin E-mediated hypersensitivity will return negative results for true penicillin allergy.
METHODS: Parents of children aged 4 to 18 years old presenting to the pediatric ED with a history of parent-reported penicillin allergy completed an allergy questionnaire. A prespecified 100 children categorized as low-risk on the basis of reported symptoms completed penicillin allergy testing by using a standard 3-tier testing process. The percent of children with negative allergy testing results was calculated with a 95% confidence interval.
RESULTS: Five hundred ninety-seven parents completed the questionnaire describing their child’s reported allergy symptoms. Three hundred two (51%) children had low-risk symptoms and were eligible for testing. Of those, 100 children were tested for penicillin allergy. The median (interquartile range) age at testing was 9 years (5–12). The median (interquartile range) age at allergy diagnosis was 1 year (9 months–3 years). Rash (97 [97%]) and itching (63 [63%]) were the most commonly reported allergy symptoms. Overall, 100 children (100%; 95% confidence interval 96.4%–100%) were found to have negative results for penicillin allergy and had their labeled penicillin allergy removed from their medical record.
CONCLUSIONS: All children categorized as low-risk by our penicillin allergy questionnaire were found to have negative results for true penicillin allergy. The utilization of this questionnaire in the pediatric ED may facilitate increased use of first-line penicillin antibiotics.
- Accepted May 19, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics