Inaccurate recording of penicillin allergy may lead to unnecessary avoidance of first-line antibiotic therapy in patients who do not have a true allergy but also to serious adverse reactions in truly allergic patients.
In a study, researchers interviewed 100 people with documented penicillin allergy and compared the results with their electronic medical record at a US teaching hospital.
They found that only 32 patients had an accurately recorded penicillin allergy and penicillin allergy was underreported for 43 patients. Documentation was poor across all professions; accurate entries were made by 23% of pharmacists, compared with 28% of physicians, 32% of nurses and 43% of advanced practice professionals.
Reporting in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
(online, 31 May 2017), the researchers say that adopting a standardised approach to obtaining and recording penicillin allergy history could improve documentation and support antibiotic stewardship initiatives.
 Staicu M, Plakosh M & Ramsey A. Prospective evaluation of electronic medical record penicillin allergy documentation at a tertiary community teaching hospital. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2017.05.011