The impact of beta-lactam allergy labels on hospitalized children

Trahern W Jones, Nora Fino, Jared Olson, Adam L Hersh
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 2020 September 17, : 1-7

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Antibiotic allergy labels are common and are frequently inaccurate. Previous studies among adults demonstrate that β-lactam allergy labels may lead to adverse outcomes, including prescription of broader-spectrum antibiotics, increased costs, and increased lengths of stay, among others. However, data among pediatric patients are lacking, especially in the United States. In this study, we sought to determine the impact of β-lactam allergy labels in hospitalized children with regards to clinical and economic outcomes.

METHOD: This retrospective cohort study included pediatric patients 30 days to 17 years old, hospitalized at Intermountain Healthcare facilities from 2007 to 2017, who received ≥1 dose of an antibiotic during their admission. Patients with β-lactam allergies were matched to nonallergic patients based on age, sex, clinical service line, admission date, academic children's hospital or other hospital admission, and the presence of chronic, comorbid conditions. Outcomes included receipt of broader-spectrum antibiotics, clinical outcomes including length of stay and readmission, and antibiotic and hospitalization costs.

RESULTS: In total, 38,906 patients were identified. The prevalence of antibiotic allergy increased from 0.9% among those < 1 year peaked at 10.6% by age 17. Patients with β-lactam allergy received broader-spectrum antibiotics and experienced higher antibiotic costs than nonallergic controls. However, there were no differences in the length of stay, readmission rates, or total number of days of antibiotics between allergic and nonallergic patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Hospitalized pediatric patients with β-lactam allergy labels receive broader-spectrum antibiotics and experience increased antibiotic costs. This represents an important opportunity for allergy delabeling and antibiotic stewardship.

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