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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574


DAY, C et al. Self-reported beta-lactam allergy in government and private hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2023, vol.113, n.2, pp.69-74. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. Up to a quarter of inpatients in high-income countries (HICs) self-report beta-lactam allergy (BLA), which if incorrect, increases the use of alternative antibiotics, worsening individual health outcomes and driving bacterial resistance. In HICs, up to 95% of self-reported BLAs are incorrect. The epidemiology of BLA in low- and middle-income African countries is unknown. OBJECTIVES. To describe the epidemiology and de-labelling outcomes of self-reported BLA in hospitalised South African (SA) patients. METHODS. Point-prevalence surveys were conducted at seven hospitals (adult, paediatric, government and privately funded, district and tertiary level) in Cape Town, SA, between April 2019 and June 2021. Ward prescription records and in-person interviews were conducted to identify and risk-stratify BLA patients using the validated PEN-FAST tool. De-labelling was attempted at the tertiary allergy clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital. RESULTS. A total of 1 486 hospital inpatients were surveyed (1 166 adults and 320 children). Only 48 patients (3.2%) self-reported a BLA, with a higher rate in private than in government-funded hospitals (6.3% v. 2.8%; p=0.014). Using the PEN-FAST tool, only 10.4% (n=5/48) of self-reported BLA patients were classified as high risk for true penicillin hypersensitivity. Antibiotics were prescribed to 70.8% (n=34/48) of self-reported BLA patients, with 64.7% (n=22/34) receiving a beta-lactam. Despite three attempts to contact patients for de-labelling at the allergy clinic, only 3/36 underwent in vivo testing, with no positive results, and 1 patient proceeded to a negative oral challenge. CONCLUSION. Unlike HICs, self-reported BLA is low among inpatients in SA. The majority of those who self-reported BLA were low risk for type 1 hypersensitivity, but outpatient de-labelling efforts were largely unsuccessful.

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