Penicillin allergy may often be unjustified in patient files

The Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital in Tilburg and Waalwijk will conduct further research with twenty general practices in the province of North Brabant into possible incorrect entries of drug allergies in patient files. According to the hospital, 10 to 20 percent of hospital patients have such a drug allergy in their file, usually hypersensitivity to penicillin. But that doesn’t always seem right.

The Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital has already conducted an investigation via two general practices. After that, an incorrect note could even be removed from the file in 78 percent of the nearly three hundred participating patients, the hospital now reports on its own site.

Side effect or allergy

Internist-infectiologist Marvin Berrevoets thinks he can explain a few things: “It used to be impossible to properly record a reaction to medication in the patient’s file. Often ‘allergy’ was mentioned in the file, even though it concerned a side effect of the antibiotic administered. Sometimes, even from the patient’s childhood, ‘allergy’ is still mentioned, while the patient has already grown out of it.”

Correct antibiotic

An incorrect report of a penicillin allergy is very disadvantageous: “The patient is therefore more often administered broad-spectrum antibiotics. This leads to more side effects and contributes to the further development of resistance to antibiotics. By removing the allergy statement from the file, we can now safely treat the patient with the right antibiotic”.

Berrevoets is still looking for twenty general practices in Central and East Brabant that want to participate in follow-up research. (AP)

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