New Mexico residents might now know that about one in 10 people in New Mexico and around the country think they are allergic to penicillin, but the results of a health care study suggest that very few of them actually are. Between September 2018 and June 2019, doctors at Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego referred patients who said they were allergic to drugs like Augmentin, ampicillin and amoxicillin to an allergy clinic. Only four of the 38 patients who made appointments at an area clinic showed signs of a penicillin allergy during skin tests.

While the study sample was small, the results were convincing enough to prompt calls for further research. The doctors behind the penicillin allergy study say physicians waste crucial time each day compiling prescription plans for patients who mistakenly believe that taking penicillin will prompt a dangerous allergic reaction. They also point out that avoiding penicillin for no good reason can adversely affect patient outcomes. Pregnant women who take medications other than penicillin to fight infections tend to stay in hospital longer, are more likely to undergo cesarean sections and often have adverse reactions to the drugs they are prescribed.

People usually believe that they are allergic to penicillin because they had a reaction to a course of antibiotics during childhood. In these situations, doctors generally diagnose a penicillin allergy without ordering any additional tests. The results of this research and a similar study conducted in Pennsylvania suggest that these diagnoses are incorrect about 90% of the time.

People who suffer serious health setbacks because of a misdiagnosis may pursue civil remedies. When litigating this kind of lawsuit, personal injury attorneys with experience in medical malpractice cases may call on medical experts to explain to juries how mistakes were made and when problems should have been identified. Attorneys could do this to establish that the treatment provided failed to meet widely accepted standards of care.