Researchers found a link between increased risk of kidney damage and two common antibiotics, vancomycin and piperacillin-tazobactam

Vancomycin is an antibiotic indicated to treat staph bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Piperacillin-tazobactam is a combination of a broad-spectrum penicillin + beta-lactamase inhibitor indicated for various susceptible infections. Clinicians from Sanford USD Medical Center identified 735 admitted adults who received vancomycin, piperacillin-tazobactam or both during two 3-month periods in 2009 and 2010. They noted that the piperacillin-tazobactam infusion time changed from 30 minutes to 4 hours from 2009 to 2010.

RELATED: To Lower AKI Risk, Avoid Combining These Antibiotics

Study authors found that over 20% of the 109 patients who received both antibiotics over the shorter infusion time developed acute renal failure compared to 16.8% of the 101 patients who received both antibiotics over the longer infusion time.

The rate of renal failure reduced to 13.5% (shorter infusion time) and 8.4% (longer infusion time) when only piperacillin-tazobactam was administered. When vancomycin alone was administered, the rate of renal failure fell to 4.9%. Researchers pointed out that piperacillin-tazobactam resulted in more acute renal failure than vancomycin. 

Study findings highlight the need to consider alternative treatments whenever clinically appropriate, they concluded.

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