Improving Vancomycin Stewardship in Critically Ill Children

Pediatrics. 2022 Apr 1;149(4):e2021052165. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-052165.


Background and objectives: Inappropriate vancomycin use is common in children's hospitals. We report a quality improvement (QI) intervention to reduce vancomycin use in our tertiary care PICU.

Methods: We retrospectively quantified the prevalence of infections caused by organisms requiring vancomycin therapy, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), among patients with suspected bacterial infections. Guided by these data, we performed 3 QI interventions over a 3-year period, including (1) stakeholder education, (2) generation of a consensus-based guideline for empiric vancomycin use, and (3) implementation of this guideline through clinical decision support. Vancomycin use in days of therapy (DOT) per 1000 patient days was measured by using statistical process control charts. Balancing measures included frequency of bacteremia due to an organism requiring vancomycin not covered with empiric therapy, 30-day mortality, and cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal organ dysfunction.

Results: Among 1276 episodes of suspected bacterial infection, a total of 19 cases of bacteremia (1.5%) due to organisms requiring vancomycin therapy were identified, including 6 MRSA bacteremias (0.5%). During the 3-year QI project, overall vancomycin DOT per 1000 patient days in the PICU decreased from a baseline mean of 182 DOT per 1000 patient days to 109 DOT per 1000 patient days (a 40% reduction). All balancing measures were unchanged, and all cases of MRSA bacteremia were treated empirically with vancomycin.

Conclusion: Our interventions reduced overall vancomycin use in the PICU without evidence of harm. Provider education and consensus building surrounding indications for empiric vancomycin use were key strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Critical Illness
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / drug therapy
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin