Drug Allergy Clinic

Vanderbilt's Drug Allergy Clinic provides expert care for individuals with all types of allergic reactions to medicines. Our mission is to eliminate uncertainty for individuals with potential drug allergies and to improve the safety and effectiveness of drug therapy.

Drug Allergies: Avoiding Misdiagnosis

Have you ever had a poor reaction to medication? Were you told you have a drug allergy? There's a chance that you had a one-time reaction and not a true allergy. Receiving a false drug-allergy diagnosis can jeopardize your health and create problems with your medical care.

People who are mislabeled as allergic to certain drugs may:

  • Receive drugs that work less well for their medical condition.
  • Experience more side effects than the typical patient.
  • Receive inaccurate advice about which drugs they can and cannot take.
  • Worry about taking drugs they truly need.

Penicillin is one example. Many individuals are misdiagnosed as allergic to penicillin since childhood, when in reality they are not.

Our experts can help determine whether you have a true drug allergy, and if so, what to do about it.

Our Drug Allergy Services

Through testing and consultation, we can help you understand which drugs are safe for you to take.

  • Consultation. We will review your medical history to assess the likelihood that a specific drug caused an allergic reaction. We can advise you on avoiding a drug you're allergic to and which other drugs may be harmful.
  • Testing. Testing can help determine which drugs are safe for you to take and which to avoid. Testing may remove an inaccurate drug-allergy diagnosis or provide additional information about drugs that are safe for you. Tests may include skin prick testing and intradermal testing; oral challenge tests, single dose or two-dose; patch testing; or blood tests.
  • Desensitization. If you recently had a reaction or positive skin test to a drug that may be your best option for treatment, desensitization may allow you to take that drug temporarily.
  • Inpatient consultation. We advise hospitalized patients who have drug allergies. Typically, they will follow up with the Drug Allergy Clinic after being discharged from the hospital.

Drug Allergy Research

Our clinic is directly linked to the Vanderbilt University Department of Medicine's Drug Hypersensitivity Research Program, which studies severe hypersensitivities. These include potentially fatal hypersensitivities such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (SJS/TEN) and Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS).

As a patient of the Drug Allergy Clinic, you may choose to take part in our research program. This may involve additional tests such as collecting blood samples for well-documented drug reactions. This supports our research into predicting and preventing these reactions.

Patient Forms