Prescribing habits of vancomycin in the Emergency Department: are we dosing appropriately?

J Emerg Med. 2013 May;44(5):979-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.11.051. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


Background: To prevent the development of bacterial resistance, current guidelines recommend vancomycin dosages of 15-20 mg/kg based on actual body weight.

Objective: Our aim was to determine if two community teaching Emergency Departments followed the new recommendations for a weight-based dosing regimen for vancomycin.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted on the prescribing habits of vancomycin in the Emergency Department. During a 6-month time period, 1,734 doses of vancomycin were dispensed and a subsequent random sample of 240 doses was reviewed. Data collection included age, gender, weight, creatinine clearance, vancomycin dose, and indication for vancomycin therapy. Mean values, standard deviations, and ranges were computed to illustrate current prescribing practices.

Results: The mean vancomycin dose was 1,117 ± 325 mg. Based on actual body weight, the calculated mean dose was 14.6 ± 5.7 mg/kg. Only 19.6% (47 of 240) of all patients received an appropriate dose based on the recommended 15-20 mg/kg vancomycin dose.

Conclusions: Our Emergency Department is inappropriately dosing vancomycin in the majority of patients. Educating clinicians regarding appropriate vancomycin dosing is recommended to achieve compliance with the latest consensus guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Body Weight
  • Cohort Studies
  • Creatinine / analysis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vancomycin / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin
  • Creatinine