Acute kidney injury in patients treated with vancomycin and piperacillin-tazobactam: A retrospective cohort analysis

J Hosp Med. 2017 Feb;12(2):77-82. doi: 10.12788/jhm.2684.


Background: Empiric antimicrobial therapy often consists of the combination of gram-positive coverage with vancomycin (VAN) and gram-negative coverage, specifically an antipseudomonal beta-lactam such as piperacillin-tazobactam (PTZ). Nephrotoxicity is commonly associated with VAN therapy; however, recent reports show higher nephrotoxicity rates among patients treated with the combination of VAN and PTZ.

Objective: This study evaluated the effect of the VAN/PTZ combination on acute kidney injury (AKI) compared to VAN and PTZ monotherapies.

Design, setting, and patients: This is a retrospective cohort analysis of adult patients without renal disease receiving VAN, PTZ, or the combination from September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2014 at an academic medical center.

Measurements: The primary outcome was AKI incidence as defined by the Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss, End-stage (RIFLE) criteria.

Methods: Continuous and categorical variables were assessed with appropriate tests. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were performed to assess for associations between variables and AKI incidence. Subanalyses based on severity of illness were performed.

Results: Overall, 11,650 patients were analyzed, with 1647 (14.1%) developing AKI. AKI was significantly more frequent in the VAN/PTZ group (21%) compared to either monotherapy group (VAN 8.3%, PTZ 7.8%, P ⟨ 0.001 for both). Combination therapy was independently associated with higher AKI odds compared to monotherapy with either agent (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.74-2.39; aOR, 2.31; 95% CI, 1.97-2.71, for VAN and PTZ, respectively). Receipt of concomitant nephrotoxic drugs was independently associated with increased AKI rates, as were increased duration of therapy, hospital length of stay, increasing severity of illness, and increasing baseline renal function.

Conclusions: In this study of more than 10,000 patients, VAN combined with PTZ was associated with twice the odds of AKI development compared to either agent as monotherapy. This demonstrates the need for judicious use of combination empiric therapy. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2017;12:77-82.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / chemically induced*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Penicillanic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Penicillanic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Piperacillin / therapeutic use
  • Piperacillin, Tazobactam Drug Combination
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Piperacillin, Tazobactam Drug Combination
  • Vancomycin
  • Penicillanic Acid
  • Piperacillin