Patients receiving vancomycin can suffer from severe bleeding caused by low platelet counts (thrombocytopaenia), a study has shown.
US researchers studied 29 patients who tested positive for vancomycin dependent platelet antibodies, 23 of whom had been given vancomycin for Staphylococcus aureus infections.
They found that the lowest mean platelet count was 13,600 per cubic millilitre in patients with vancomycin-dependent antibodies and that on average the count dropped by 93%.
Ten patients had severe bleeding and of these, one had gross hematuria, two had lower gastrointestinal haemorrhages requiring transfusion, two had intrapulmonary haemorrhages and two had excessive bleeding from venepuncture sites.
Three patients from the study group died from complications caused by S. aureus infection seven, eight and 13 days after vancomycin started and one, two and seven days after developing thrombocytopaenia.
New England Journal of Medicine (2007) 356:904-10