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Rapid bolus administration (e.g., over several minutes) may be associated with exaggerated hypotension, including shock, and, rarely, cardiac arrest. Vancomycin should be administered over a period of not less than 60 minutes to avoid rapid-infusion-related reactions. Stopping the infusion usually results in prompt cessation of these reactions.
Ototoxicity has occurred in patients receiving vancomycin. It may be transient or permanent. It has been reported mostly in patients who have been given excessive doses, who have an underlying hearing loss, or who are receiving concomitant therapy with another ototoxic agent, such as an aminoglycoside. Vancomycin should be used with caution in patients with renal insufficiency because the risk of toxicity is appreciably increased by high, prolonged blood concentrations.
Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) has been reported with use of nearly all antibacterial agents, including Vancomycin Injection, USP, and may range in severity from mild diarrhea to fatal colitis. Treatment with antibacterial agents alters the normal flora of the colon leading to overgrowth of C. difficile.
C. difficile produces toxins A and B which contribute to the development of CDAD. Hypertoxin producing strains of C. difficile cause increased morbidity and mortality, as these infections can be refractory to antimicrobial therapy and may require colectomy. CDAD must be considered in all patients who present with diarrhea following antibiotic use. Careful medical history is necessary since CDAD has been reported to occur over two months after the administration of antibacterial agents.
If CDAD is suspected or confirmed, ongoing antibiotic use not directed against C. difficile may need to be discontinued. Appropriate fluid and electrolyte management, protein supplementation, antibiotic treatment of C. difficile, and surgical evaluation should be instituted as clinically indicated.
Prolonged use of vancomycin may result in the overgrowth of nonsusceptible microorganisms. Careful observation of the patient is essential. If superinfection occurs during therapy, appropriate measures should be taken. In rare instances, there have been reports of pseudomembranous colitis due to C. difficile developing in patients who received intravenous vancomycin.
In order to minimize the risk of nephrotoxicity when treating patients with underlying renal dysfunction or patients receiving concomitant therapy with an aminoglycoside, serial monitoring of renal function should be performed and particular care should be taken in following appropriate dosing schedules (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Serial tests of auditory function may be helpful in order to minimize the risk of ototoxicity.
Reversible neutropenia has been reported in patients receiving vancomycin (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). Patients who will undergo prolonged therapy with vancomycin or those who are receiving concomitant drugs that may cause neutropenia should have periodic monitoring of the leukocyte count.
Vancomycin is irritating to tissue and must be given by a secure intravenous route of administration. Pain, tenderness, and necrosis occur with inadvertent extravasation. Thrombophlebitis may occur, the frequency and severity of which can be minimized by slow infusion of the drug and by rotation of venous access sites.
There have been reports that the frequency of infusion-related events (including hypotension, flushing, erythema, urticaria, and pruritus) increases with the concomitant administration of anesthetic agents. Infusion-related events may be minimized by the administration of vancomycin as a 60-minute infusion prior to anesthetic induction. The safety and efficacy of vancomycin administered by the intrathecal (intralumbar or intraventricular) route or by the intraperitoneal route have not been established by adequate and well-controlled trials.
Reports have revealed that administration of sterile vancomycin by the intraperitoneal route during continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) has resulted in a syndrome of chemical peritonitis. To date, this syndrome has ranged from a cloudy dialysate alone to a cloudy dialysate accompanied by variable degrees of abdominal pain and fever. This syndrome appears to be short-lived after discontinuation of intraperitoneal vancomycin.
Prescribing vancomycin in the absence of a proven or strongly suspected bacterial infection or a prophylactic indication is unlikely to provide benefit to the patient and increases the risk of the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
Teratogenic Effects - Pregnancy Category C
Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with vancomycin. It is not known whether vancomycin can affect reproduction capacity. In a controlled clinical study, the potential ototoxic and nephrotoxic effects of vancomycin on infants were evaluated when the drug was administered to pregnant women for serious staphylococcal infections complicating intravenous drug abuse. Vancomycin was found in cord blood. No sensorineural hearing loss or nephrotoxicity attributable to vancomycin was noted. One infant whose mother received vancomycin in the third trimester experienced conductive hearing loss that was not attributed to the administration of vancomycin. Because the number of patients treated in this study was limited and vancomycin was administered only in the second and third trimesters, it is not known whether vancomycin causes fetal harm. Vancomycin should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.
Vancomycin is excreted in human milk. Caution should be exercised when vancomycin is administered to a nursing woman. Because of the potential for adverse events, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
In pediatric patients, it may be appropriate to confirm desired vancomycin serum concentrations. Concomitant administration of vancomycin and anesthetic agents has been associated with erythema and histamine-like flushing in pediatric patients (see PRECAUTIONS). The potential for toxic effects in pediatric patients from chemicals that may leach from the plastic containers into the single-dose, premixed intravenous preparation has not been determined.
The natural decrement of glomerular filtration with increasing age may lead to elevated vancomycin serum concentrations if dosage is not adjusted. Vancomycin dosage schedules should be adjusted in elderly patients (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/7/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Vancomycin Hydrochloride Information
- Vancomycin Hydrochloride Drug Interactions Center: vancomycin iv
- Vancomycin Hydrochloride Side Effects Center
- Vancomycin Hydrochloride Overview including Precautions
- Vancomycin Hydrochloride FDA Approved Prescribing Information including Dosage
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