Confronting the challenge of beta-lactam allergies: a quasi-experimental study assessing impact of pharmacy-led interventions


Department of Pharmacy, Aurora Medical Center-Grafton, Aurora BayCare Medical Center


OBJECTIVE: To improve allergy history documentation and increase the use of beta-lactams when appropriate in patients with a reported beta-lactam allergy.

METHODS: This pre-post study was conducted at a 167-bed tertiary care community hospital and evaluated multidisciplinary interventions on allergy documentation and antibiotic selection. Interventions included education, creation of local practice guidelines, and modified practices for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Inpatients with a reported beta-lactam allergy receiving at least 1 antibiotic for >24 hours were included; first admissions were assessed. Primary outcomes were documentation of reaction type and percentage of patients receiving non-beta-lactam therapy. Secondary outcomes included documentation of previously tolerated beta-lactams, modification of non-beta-lactam therapy, discharge antibiotics, and adverse reactions.

RESULTS: A total of 179 patients were included, 91 preintervention and 88 postintervention. No significant differences were observed between the before versus after groups in the percentage of patients with documentation of reaction type (90.1% vs 89.8%, P = .940) or the overall percentage of patients receiving non-beta-lactams (86.8% vs 84.1%, P = .605). However, significantly more patients in the after phase had documentation of previously tolerated beta-lactams (8.8% vs 28.4%, P = .001), and among patients receiving a non-beta-lactam, a greater percentage was subsequently switched to a beta-lactam (11.4% vs 25.7%, P = .022). One allergic reaction was documented during the study, which occurred in the before phase.

CONCLUSION: Multidisciplinary education and local guideline implementation led by pharmacists may improve allergy documentation and antibiotic selection in patients with reported beta-lactam allergies.

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