Vancomycin Advanced Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: Exercise in Futility or Virtuous Endeavor to Improve Drug Efficacy and Safety?

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 May 18;72(10):e675-e681. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1354.


Vancomycin is commonly prescribed to hospitalized patients. Decades of pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic research culminated in recommendations to monitor the ratio of the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) to the minimum inhibitory concentration in order to optimize vancomycin exposure and minimize toxicity in the revised 2020 guidelines. These guideline recommendations are based on limited data without high-quality evidence and limitations in strength. Despite considerable effort placed on vancomycin therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM), clinicians should recognize that the majority of vancomycin use is empiric. Most patients prescribed empiric vancomycin do not require it beyond a few days. For these patients, AUC determinations during the initial days of vancomycin exposure are futile. This added workload may detract from high-level patient care activities. Loading doses likely achieve AUC targets, so AUC monitoring after a loading dose is largely unnecessary for broad application. The excessive vancomycin TDM for decades has been propagated with limitations in evidence, and it should raise caution on contemporary vancomycin TDM recommendations.

Keywords: antibiotic; infectious diseases; therapeutic drug monitoring; vancomycin.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Medical Futility
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Vancomycin* / adverse effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Vancomycin