Improving the appropriateness of vancomycin use by sequential interventions

Vancomycin usage is directly associated with the incidence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Optimal methods to reduce inappropriate use have not been delineated. We determined the appropriateness of vancomycin prescribing at our hospital on the basis of national guidelines and assessed the effect of sequential administrative and educational interventions.


In this prospective 3-phase study conducted in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, we monitored vancomycin prescribing at baseline and in 2 follow-up periods. Administrative interventions included discussions with service chiefs and revising routine perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis orders. Educational interventions included in-services about vancomycin-resistant enterococci and appropriate vancomycin prescribing. In each monitoring period, 50 consecutive new vancomycin orders that could be evaluated were classified for appropriateness and categorized by indication.


At baseline, 70% of vancomycin use was inappropriate. Surgical services accounted for 84% of orders. Interventions targeted services with high or frequently inappropriate vancomycin use. After administrative interventions, inappropriate vancomycin use dropped to 40% of orders (P =.003). Improvements were noted in targeted services. Educational interventions further decreased inappropriate vancomycin use, but the effect appeared transient.


The simple, nonrestrictive administrative interventions used resulted in a statistically significant (30%) reduction in inappropriate vancomycin prescribing. However, educational interventions provided only transient benefit on institutional prescribing patterns.


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Lipsky BA
Baker CA
McDonald LL
Suzuki NT