Objective: To reduce prophylactic vancomycin use in patients with a history of penicillin or cephalosporin allergy undergoing elective orthopedic surgery by using a targeted allergy consultation and penicillin allergy skin testing. Patients and Methods: The participants in this practice improvement study were patients with a history of penicillin or cephalosporin allergy who were scheduled for elective orthopedic surgery and referred by orthopedic surgeons for allergy consultation and penicillin allergy skin testing between September 22, 1998, and April 15, 1999. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of participants who received prophylactic cefazolin during the study period compared with historical controls. Results: Of the 60 study patients, 59 received a penicillin allergy skin test, 58 underwent orthopedic surgery, and 55 received antibiotic prophylaxis. Fifty-five patients had a history of allergy to penicillin, a cephalosporin, or both, and 5 had a history of nonspecific antibiotic allergy. Of the 59 patients, 55 (93%) had negative penicillin allergy skin test results. Fifty-four (90%) of the 60 patients were given clearance by the allergist to receive cefazolin. Of the 55 study patients who received antibiotic prophylaxis, 6 (11%) received vancomycin compared with 38 (30%) of 127 historical controls (P≤.05). None of the study patients had an immediate reaction to cefazolin or to vancomycin. Conclusion: Prophylactic vancomycin use in patients with a history of penicillin or cephalosporin allergy undergoing elective orthopedic surgery can be reduced by a targeted allergy consultation and penicillin allergy skin testing.
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