Cephalosporin use in penicillin-allergic patients: A survey of otolaryngologists and literature review

Michael J. Persky, Scott A. Roof, Yixin Fang, Daniel Jethanamest, Max M. April

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis This study investigated the differences between the standard guidelines and the practice patterns of otolaryngologists in managing "penicillin-allergic" patients. A major goal was to identify factors influencing an otolaryngologist's choice of antibiotic. Study Design Cross-sectional survey. Methods Four hundred seventy members of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngologists (ASPO) and 150 general otolaryngologists from the Florida Society of Otolaryngology (FSO) were surveyed. Results Ninety-six ASPO members (20.4%) and 22 members of FSO (14.6%) responded. When asked about the management of a pediatric patient with acute otitis media and a history of a nonsevere immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated amoxicillin allergy, 54% of ASPO respondents indicated they would initiate guideline-recommended cefdinir, whereas only 27% of FSO respondents chose cefdinir (P = .02). Otolaryngologists who are fellowship trained in pediatrics or have pediatric-focused practices were significantly more likely to prescribe cefdinir. Overall, 57% of respondents indicated that they were familiar with the literature regarding the cross-reactivity of β-lactams, but only 25% of respondents felt that they could easily differentiate a potentially life-threatening IgE-mediated allergy from a non-IgE-mediated drug intolerance. Conclusions The data show differences between the current recommendations and the behavior of otolaryngologists. Pediatric otolaryngologists were more familiar with the guideline-recommended therapy, likely from their frequent exposure to patients requiring a β-lactam. Nevertheless, most otolaryngologists could benefit from increased awareness of the current literature. Patients may be receiving less than optimal medication management due to a misidentification of those at risk of life- threatening allergic cross-reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1822-1826
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


  • Allergy
  • antibiotic
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • evidence-based medicine
  • immunology
  • pen-allergic
  • penicillin


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