Perioperative pharmacology: a focus on vancomycin

AORN J. 2011 May;93(5):593-6; quiz 597-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aorn.2010.09.031.


Given the increase in various drug-resistant organisms and in patients who are allergic to penicillin, perioperative nurses are likely to encounter patients who are receiving IV vancomycin, a tricyclic glycopeptide antibiotic. In general, vancomycin is not considered a first-line agent because of its possible adverse effects (e.g., hypotension, phlebitis, nephrotoxicity, ototoxicity); therefore, it is reserved for treating serious or severe infections caused by organisms that are unresponsive to other antimicrobial agents. Vancomycin is administered intravenously over a minimum of 60 minutes to avoid infusion-related reactions. Some considerations for nurses administering vancomycin include ensuring a patent IV line, planning for administration of the preoperative dose as much as two hours before the initial incision is made, and including information about the dose and timing of preoperative vancomycin administration in the surgical time out.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing
  • Humans
  • Perioperative Nursing*
  • Vancomycin / adverse effects
  • Vancomycin / pharmacokinetics
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin