TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Jul18/10)
20 July 2018
Third World Network

Penicillin allergy linked to increased risks of MRSA and C. difficile

Dear friends and colleagues,

Patients who have a penicillin allergy recorded in their medical records have increased risks of contracting dangerous infection MRSA and healthcare-associated infection C.difficile.

The study by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers find that the increased risk is largely due to the use of broad-sprectrum antibiotics as alternatives to penicillin, which are known to contribute to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Using data from the Health Improvement Network, an electronic medical record database of 11 million UK patients, they identified 64,141 adults with a documented penicillin allergy, and 237,258 matched adults of similar sex and age, with recent penicillin exposure but without a penicillin allergy.

The results revealed that patients whose medical records indicated they had a penicillin allergy had a 69 percent greater risk of contracting MRSA than did patients in the comparison group, and a 26 percent greater risk of C.difficile.

Increased use of broad-spectrum antibiotics accounted for more than half (55%) of the increased MRSA risk and more than a third (35%) of the increased C.difficile risk among patients with a listed penicillin allergy.

The researchers argue that addressing penicillin allergies ‘may be an important public health strategy to reduce the incidence of MRSA and C.difficile among patients with a penicillin allergy label’.

This study was published in the BMJ June 30, 2018.

With best wishes,

Third World Network