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September 12, 2001

How Predictive Is a History of Penicillin Allergy?

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;286(10):1174-1175. doi:10.1001/jama.286.10.1173

To the Editor: In their Rational Clinical Examination article, Dr Salkind and colleagues1 recommend that "taking a detailed history of a patient's reaction to penicillin may allow clinicians to exclude true penicillin allergy, allowing these patients to receive penicillin." This advice is potentially dangerous. The reason this practice appears to be successful is the relatively low frequency of anaphylaxis, not because the history is predictive.

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