Journal reading

Penicillin allergy: a practical approach to assessment and prescribing

Penicillin allergies are not always lifelong. Approximately 50% are lost over five years. A reaction to penicillin during a childhood infection is unlikely to be a true allergy.

  • Cost: free

Penicillin-allergy-Getty Images-115917981

Only 1–2% of patients with a confirmed penicillin allergy have an allergy to cephalosporins. In patients with a low risk of severe allergic reactions, cephalosporins are a relatively safe treatment option.

Misha Devchand, Jason A Trubiano Aust Prescr 2019;42:192-9




This activity should take around 1 hour to complete. It can be included in a pharmacist’s CPD plan for either one Group 1 credit or, on successful completion of the assessment activity, two Group 2 credits. Pharmacists should self-record this activity.

Pharmacy Competency Standards

1.6 Contribute to continuous improvement in quality and safety

3.3 Monitor and evaluate medication management

3.5 Support quality use of medicines.



This activity has been designed to take around 1 hour to complete - this is based on reading the article from an issue of Australian Prescriber and completing a quiz. You will be provided with immediate feedback on your answers and a certificate of completion will be available for you to download for self-reporting purposes.


Learning objectives

  1. Recognise that reactions to penicillin may not be allergies.
  2. Comprehend that a penicillin allergy label may be incorrect.
  3. Analyse a patient’s history of allergy.
  4. Recognise that patients with a confirmed penicillin allergy may be able to take cephalosporins.