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Very few people who think they are allergic to penicillin actually are. Yet, even if someone reports a remote and vague history of penicillin allergy, these very useful medications will not be given. This forces many patients to use antibiotics that may be too broad spectrum, not very effective, or expensive. Three major societies have come together to agree on an approach for assessing if penicillin allergy is really present when a patient reports an allergy to these medications. Erica S. Shenoy, MD, PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, author of a JAMA review on the topic, discusses this very important problem.
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