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headshot of Renae Boerneke

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHQI) announced its 2020-2021 Improvement Scholars Program this week. The Carolina Antimicrobial Stewardship Program congratulates member Renae Boerneke, PharmD, BCPS, CPP on the selection of her project with co-lead Mildred Kwan, MD, PhD: Reducing the Healthcare Utilization of Broad Spectrum Antibiotics: Implementation of Outpatient Penicillin Allergy Assessments.

Dr. Boerneke is a clinical pharmacist practitioner within the Department of Pharmacy working in the UNC Infectious Diseases Clinic, and Dr. Kwan is faculty within the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology, Department of Medicine within the UNC School of Medicine and the Thurstone Arthritis Research Center. Dr. Boerneke and Dr. Kwan are interested in the erroneous labeling of individuals with penicillin allergy, which has been recognized by several national agencies as an important antibiotic stewardship initiative.

“The evidence demonstrates that only one in ten people who have been labeled as having a penicillin allergy are truly allergic,” Boerneke explained. “However, several studies have demonstrated that having a penicillin allergy leads to higher use of broad spectrum antibiotics, which contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Additionally, broad spectrum antibiotics are not only more expensive, but also have a higher rate of adverse events, resulting in less favorable patient outcomes.”

Boerneke and Kwan’s goals for the project are to help improve implementation of the penicillin allergy screening protocol Boerneke developed in the outpatient care setting to assist with removal of erroneous allergies when indicated, identify inefficiencies and barriers in the current approach, and work to expand this project into clinical areas of high need.