Many people were told that they're allergic to penicillin because of a rash they had when they were young. In most studies, it turns out only 10-20% of such patients are truly allergic. Therefore, most people can be treated with this important group of antibiotics without any ill effects. In fact, people labeled as allergic to penicillin are at a disadvantage, needing to use more expensive, more powerful antibiotics that often have a greater risk of additional adverse effects. The label of penicillin allergy can result in extended hospitalizations that are more complicated and more expensive than hospital stays for people who are not allergic.
This year, as we head into the cold and flu season during a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to remove the label of penicillin allergy whenever it is appropriate to do so.
Fortunately, there is a simple procedure to evaluate whether someone is still allergic to penicillin, which only takes about 2.5 hours to complete. However, during the pandemic, we don't want to be spending time indoors with other people for so long. Therefore, we set up the procedures for doing the evaluation outdoors on the lawn next to our building, where there is ample space for people to bring their own lawn chairs and spread out from one another so they could spend the time needed for the testing safely. It was a huge success - none of the seven patients who were evaluated had any adverse effects from the testing!
Since removing the label of penicillin allergy is important, and the weather will still be warm enough for a few more weeks, we plan to do at least one more session this fall. The testing procedure is always covered by insurance because they're happy to evaluate whether you can tolerate safer, less expensive antibiotics. For more information about any costs you may have, you can call your insurance company and ask what your copay would be for billing codes 95018 and 95076. Whether you're an existing patient or not, if you are interested in being evaluated for whether you're still allergic to penicillin, please let us know at (414) 529-8500 or fill out the form on our Outdoor Penicillin Testing page. Once we have enough interest, we'll schedule a date that works for as many as possible!
For more information about the testing process, visit our Penicillin Allergy page.