Governor McMaster declares Friday, September 28, 2018 Penicillin Allergy Day in South Carolina
Penicillin allergies are quite common with over 30 million Americans and nearly 500,000 South Carolinians reporting an allergy to penicillin or related antibiotics. Penicillin, an antibiotic that has been on the market since the 1940s, is not as commonly used as it once was, but many other commonly prescribed antibiotics are related.
“Recognition of the accuracy of a true penicillin allergy is important,” said Dr. Brandon Bookstaver, Associate Professor at the USC College of Pharmacy and infectious diseases pharmacist at Prisma Health. Recent published medical literature has demonstrated that patients with documented penicillin allergies are at higher risk for infections after surgery and often receive costlier or potentially less effective alternative antibiotics. It offers the question, ‘what can be done’?
“It’s a combination of patient and provider education with detailed investigative work to get the true nature of the documented allergy” commented Dr. Hana Rac, the infectious diseases pharmacist for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Collaborative of South Carolina (ASC-SC) and clinical instructor at the USC College of Pharmacy. “If there is suspicion that there may be a true allergy, there are other ways to determine the accuracy, including a penicillin skin test,” Dr. Rac added. USC College of Pharmacy students and faculty have implemented pharmacist-driven penicillin skin testing at Prisma Health Richland, helping to improve detection of true allergies and optimizing antibiotic selection in these patients. Approximately 90% of patients with a documented penicillin allergy, in fact, do not have a true, serious allergy which can be determined through reconciliation and penicillin skin testing.
Penicillin allergy day reminds us the importance of good documentation of all drug allergies and the value in good detective work to determine if related medications can be prescribed safely. Dr. Bookstaver added, “Governor McMaster recognizes its value by declaring September 28th as penicillin allergy day in our state.” South Carolina is one of four states with an official proclamation of National Penicillin Allergy Day for 2018.