Drug Allergy Program
Pediatric Antibiotic Allergy Testing

Getting Tested for Antibiotic Allergy

Recent studies have shown that it is safe to re-expose children to antibiotics implicated in allergic reactions and that 95% of children who were thought to be allergic will not have a reaction when tested. The Pediatric Antibiotic Allergy Testing Services (PATS) at Cincinnati Children’s is available for patients admitted to the hospital or seen in outpatient clinic appointments.

For more information, call 513-517-7287 (PATS) or send an email to PATS@cchmc.org.

What is the testing like?

According to Kimberly A. Risma, MD, PhD, who leads the Drug Allergy Program, the testing is simple and safe and should be offered to all children who are labeled as having an antibiotic allergy. Children may be seen when sick with an illness, receiving their first dose of preferred antibiotic in our office, or at a scheduled time when they are healthy. We test for an allergy to antibiotics by giving a dose of antibiotics by mouth and watching for a reaction. If there is not a reaction in the first 48 hours of the challenge, your child is not allergic.

What if my child is experiencing a rash today? 


Outpatient Testing

New patients coming to the PATS outpatient clinic will have antibiotic testing done that same day in most cases. For example, patients with a concern for penicillin allergy will take a dose of amoxicillin (the most commonly prescribed form of penicillin) at the beginning of the appointment, and our allergy staff observe them for an hour to make sure that there is no reaction. Rarely, staff may perform a skin test prior to administration of amoxicillin. After testing, PATS offers numerous supports, including access to allergy providers if you are concerned about allergic symptoms or have additional questions after the visit. Allergic symptoms during or after the challenge are infrequent (5% of children) and generally mild.

Inpatient Consultations

Children labeled with penicillin allergy who are admitted to the Hospital Medicine Service may be offered the opportunity for allergy testing or recommended to trial the use of a penicillin during hospitalization if that is the preferred antibiotic for their infection. Patients may also be referred to PATS for testing at a later date as an alternative. 

Why Your Child Most Likely Does Not Have A Penicillin Allergy

Penicillin allergy is reported by 32 million Americans, or about 1 in 10 people. However, most of them are not actually allergic. If you’ve been told your child may have a penicillin allergy, simple allergy testing can show if they are truly allergic.

Read the Blog post

Penicillin Allergy and Health Benefits of Challenging It

Young and Healthy podcast promo image.

Listen to the Cincinnati Children’s Young & Healthy Podcast episode about penicillin and penicillin allergy featuring guests Trisha Wendling, Nurse Practitioner and Tricia Earl, Clinical Care Coordinator, RN. 

Listen to the podcast

The Urgent Need

An accurate assessment of penicillin allergy is important from a public health standpoint.

“As we use increasingly complicated antibiotics because of allergy labels, the price of healthcare goes up. It would be far better to take amoxicillin for a strep throat, ear or sinus infection than to take what we call “big gun” antibiotics that will, in most cases, cause diarrhea and increase the likelihood of bacterial resistance in the community.”

- Kimberly A. Risma, MD, PhD, leader of the Drug Allergy Program.