Therapeutic monitoring of vancomycin in adults summary of consensus recommendations from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists

Pharmacotherapy. 2009 Nov;29(11):1275-9. doi: 10.1592/phco.29.11.1275.


Vancomycin is a commonly used antibiotic due to its effectiveness in treating serious gram-positive infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. As commercial drug assays and a multitude of pharmacokinetic data from a variety of patient populations are widely available, therapeutic monitoring of serum vancomycin concentrations is frequently performed by clinicians, with the expectation that targeting the concentrations within a relatively narrow range can minimize toxicity yet still achieve therapeutic success. Much debate exists, however, over the value of routine therapeutic monitoring of vancomycin levels because of conflicting evidence regarding the ability of serum concentrations to predict effectiveness or prevent toxicity. In addition, studies have suggested that the potential for nephrotoxicity or ototoxicity with vancomycin monotherapy is minimal at conventional dosages of 1 g (15 mg/kg) every 12 hours. However, increased rates of nephrotoxicity have recently been reported with doses of 4 g/day or higher. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists published a consensus statement on therapeutic monitoring of serum vancomycin levels in adults. These organizations established an expert panel to review the scientific data and controversies associated with vancomycin monitoring and to make recommendations based on the available evidence. As the members of this panel, we summarize the conclusions and highlight the recommendations from the consensus statement. We determined that the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC): minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) ratio is the most useful pharmacodynamic parameter to predict vancomycin effectiveness and suggested a target ratio of 400 or greater to eradicate S. aureus. In addition, trough serum concentration monitoring is the most accurate and practical method to monitor vancomycin serum levels. Increasing trough concentrations to 15-20 mg/L to attain the target AUC:MIC ratio may be desirable but is currently not supported by clinical trials. Alternative therapies should be considered in patients with S. aureus infections that demonstrate a vancomycin MIC of 2 mg/L or greater because the target AUC:MIC ratio ( 400) is unlikely to be achieved in this setting. Increasing the dosage to result in higher trough concentrations may increase the potential for toxicity; however additional clinical experience is required to determine the extent.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Vancomycin Resistance / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin