Research helps play it safe in the ICU

Life threatening infections, or sepsis, are one of the most common reasons people end up in the intensive care unit or stay longer in the hospital than originally expected. To combat these infections, physicians can choose from several antibiotics, and often will use a combination of drugs until they are certain of what is causing the infection. However, as with every drug, there are risks. Antibiotics are no exception to this rule, making the choice a difficult one. On one hand, physicians need to treat the serious infection, but on the other hand, risks such as life-threatening kidney damage can occur with some of these drugs.

Recently, Mayo Clinic pharmacy resident Diana Schreier, Pharm.D., R.Ph.; led a research study to determine the safety of one particular combination of antibiotics for short-term use in the ICU. Published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the team’s research shows that short-term use of the combination of piperacillin/tazobactam and vancomycin (PTZ/VAN) is no more toxic to the kidneys than other combinations.

Funding was provided, in part, by the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science (NIH grant UL1TR002377).