Some 32 million people in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States are supposed to be allergic to penicillin. However, a new study from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has found that only a tiny fraction of these people are actually allergic. Of the 32 million people who supposedly have penicillin allergies, 95 percent can actually take the drug safely, according to the AAAAI. Penicillin has saved millions of lives since it was first discovered to fight bacteria harmful to humans.
One phenomenon that helps explain the mistaken diagnosis of penicillin allergies is the mix up of between bacterial and viral infections in young children. In many cases, doctors will mistakenly administer the antibiotic when the child is really dealing with a virus. As the virus continues to cause symptoms, such as rashes, an allergy to penicillin is often blamed. This mistaken diagnosis can cause people to believe in an allergy that isn’t even there for life.
In order to combat this problem, the AAAAI has advocated for the use of regular penicillin skin tests. These can be performed as part of antibiotic stewardship programs at medical centers. Patients who are found to be non-allergic would then have more effective and cheaper treatment options in the event of a bacterial infection. This may also help with the broader problem of growing antibacterial resistance.
The victim of medical malpractice related to the use of penicillin or other antibiotics may want to seek compensation for their pain and suffering. Cases involving malpractice can be very complicated, which is why patients are generally advised to get support and guidance from an attorney. Many health care providers have malpractice insurance to cover these types of cases, but a hospital or other organization may wish to fight a lawsuit in court.