Female sex as a risk factor for penicillin drug allergy in the inpatient setting

Dayne H. Voelker, Alexei Gonzalez-Estrada, Miguel A. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Penicillin is the most common reported drug allergy. Previous literature suggests that there is increased prevalence of penicillin drug allergy in female patients in the outpatient setting. However, this is poorly described in the inpatient setting. Objective: This study was performed to determine whether female sex is an independent risk factor for penicillin allergy in the inpatient setting. Methods: A retrospective review of electronic medical records (January 1, 2001-December 31, 2017) was performed for patients with a history of penicillin allergy who underwent penicillin skin testing (PST). Each chart review included the age at initial skin testing, sex, medications, and medical co-morbidities. The study was approved by the institutional review board. Results: 30,883 patients underwent PST with 29,354 and 1,529 occurring in the outpatient and inpatient setting respectively. 170 patients tested positive with a ≥ 5x5 wheal. Of the 170 positive patients, 122 were female (72%) and 48 were male (28%). 15 patients tested positive in the inpatient setting. Of the 1506 adult patients tested in the inpatient setting, 809 were female and 697 were male. 12 females (92.3%) and 1 one male (7.7%) tested positive with a ≥ 5x5 wheal (OR-10.5; 95% CI-1.4-80.8; p-value=0.02). 23 pediatric patients were tested in the inpatient setting. Two pediatric male patients were positive and no female pediatric patients tested positive (OR-1.7; 95% CI-0.5-5.9; p-value=0.5). Conclusion: In the inpatient setting, adult females are 10 times more likely to have a positive PST compared to males. Female sex may be a potential risk factor for objective penicillin drug allergy in the inpatient setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-167
Number of pages5
JournalAllergy and Asthma Proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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