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A potential cost savings analysis of a penicillin de-labeling program. Front Allergy 2023;4:1101321



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INTRODUCTION: Over 95% of patients documented as penicillin allergic can tolerate a penicillin without a reaction. Inaccurate documentation of penicillin allergy leads to more expensive alternative antibiotic prescriptions and an increased incidence of resistant infections.

OBJECTIVE: To understand the potential drug cost savings of a penicillin de-labeling program to a healthcare system.

METHODS: We evaluated patient visits with documented penicillin allergy who presented to the pediatric Emergency Department (PED) and 22 associated primary care clinics. Patients were included if they were discharged home with a non-penicillin antibiotic when the first-line treatment for the diagnosis would have been a penicillin. The potential cost savings were the sum of all visit-level cost differences between the non-penicillin prescription(s) and a counterfactual penicillin prescription. To factor in a 95% successful patient de-labeling rate, we repeatedly sampled 95% from the patients with the eligible visits 10,000 times to produce an estimate of the potential cost savings.

RESULTS: Over the 8-year period, 2,034 visits by 1,537 patients to the PED and 12,349 visits by 6,073 patients to primary care clinics satisfied eligibility criteria. If 95% of the patients could have been successfully de-labeled, it would have generated a cost saving of $618,653 (95% CI $618,617-$618,689) for all the corresponding payers in the system.

CONCLUSIONS: Implementing a penicillin de-labeling program across a healthcare system PED and its associated primary care clinics would bring significant cost savings. Healthcare systems should rigorously evaluate optimal methods to de-label patients with reported penicillin allergy.

Author List

Dong Y, Zembles TN, Nimmer M, Brousseau DC, Vyles D


Yilu Dong PhD Assistant Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin