In this study from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, patients with penicillin allergies had a 50% increased odds of developing surgical site infections (SSIs), which the researchers attributed to the second-line antibiotics administered to them.
A total of 8,385 patients who had surgery between 2010 and 2014 were analyzed. Of these, 922 had penicillin allergy noted in their medical records. Overall, 214 developed SSIs−3.5% of those with documented penicillin allergy and 2.6% of those without.
A review of available patient information about the reactions leading to their allergy diagnoses showed that practically all of them could have safely received standard testing for penicillin allergies. Only five had severe hypersensitivity reactions that would rule out testing.
Clarification of penicillin allergies in preoperative care may decrease SSI risks, the authors say.
Background: A reported penicillin allergy may compromise receipt of recommended antibiotic prophylaxis intended to prevent surgical site infections (SSIs). Most patients with a reported penicillin allergy are not allergic.