Penicillin allergy often inaccurately recorded by healthcare professionals

Researchers find that only one-third of medical records accurately reflected patients’ reported allergic reactions to penicillin.

Penicillin rash in the arm, allergic reaction of patient to penicillin

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.


[1] 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

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP June 2017 online;9(6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203051

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