ß-Lactams are the most widely used antibiotic family, but they are also the most common cause of drug-induced hypersensitivity reactions. The estimated prevalence of reported penicillin allergy ranges between 9% and 12%, although a high percentage of patients with a history of penicillin allergy have no subsequent reactions on reexposure to ß-lactams. A self-reported penicillin allergy has been associated with antimicrobial resistance, increased cost, intensive care admission, and death, making it essential to establish an accurate diagnosis. In addition to a thorough clinical history, diagnostic methods include skin tests, in vitro tests, and drug-challenge tests.
In this review, the diagnosis and management of patients with self-reported penicillin allergy is discussed, including the recently introduced antimicrobial stewardship strategy.