BACKGROUND - The rate of vancomycin failure in patients with hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has exceeded 40% in several studies. This observation was attributed initially to the lack of weight-based dosing and targeting of lower trough concentrations. However, a subsequent study demonstrated no additional benefit in patients who achieved trough vancomycin concentrations >15 mg/L compared with patients with concentrations between 5 and 15 mg/L. We sought to identify contributors to vancomycin failure in patients with MRSA HAP.
METHODS - This was a retrospective study of patients in a surgical intensive care unit with MRSA HAP who received vancomycin between January 1, 2005, and July 31, 2007. Clinical outcomes, microbiological data, prior antibiotic exposure, ventilator days, co-morbidities, and demographics were compared in patients with clinical success and those with treatment failure. Their characteristics were compared using a two-sided Fisher exact test or Mann-Whitney U test, as appropriate for nominal or continuous data.
RESULTS - More patients in the treatment failure group had received one or more doses of vancomycin within 90 days leading up to MRSA HAP (84% vs. 47%; p = 0.04). In addition, the duration of prior vancomycin exposure was significantly longer among patients in the treatment failure group (6 vs. 0 days; p < 0.05). There were no statistically significant differences in the percentages of patients who achieved a vancomycin trough concentrations > or =15 mg/dL within the first 48 h (28% vs. 17%; p = 0.69), 72 h (44% vs. 39%; p = 1.0), or 96 h (56% vs. 44%; p = 0.74) after starting treatment. Patients in the failure group had a significantly higher overall mortality rate (32% vs. 0; p = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS - These data suggest that patients who have recent exposure to vancomycin are at high risk for vancomycin failure and may benefit from an appropriate alternative when a diagnosis of MRSA HAP is made.