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Condition

Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

Hospital-acquired pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that occurs during a hospital stay. This type of pneumonia can be very severe. Sometimes, it can be fatal.

What are the alternative names for Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

Nosocomial pneumonia; Ventilator-associated pneumonia; Health-care associated pneumonia; HCAP

What are the causes for Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a common illness. It is caused by many different germs. Pneumonia that starts in the hospital tends to be more serious than other lung infections because:

  • People in the hospital are often very sick and cannot fight off germs.
  • The types of germs present in a hospital are often more dangerous and more resistant to treatment than those outside in the community.

Pneumonia occurs more often in people who are using a respirator, which is a machine that helps them breathe.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia can also be spread by health care workers, who can pass germs from their hands, clothes, or instruments from one person to another. This is why hand-washing, wearing gowns, and using other safety measures is so important in the hospital.

People can be more likely to get pneumonia while in the hospital if they:

  • Abuse alcohol
  • Have had chest surgery or other major surgery
  • Have a weak immune system from cancer treatment, certain medicines, or severe wounds
  • Have long-term (chronic) lung disease
  • Breathe saliva or food into their lungs as a result of not being fully alert or having swallowing problems (for example, after a stroke)
  • Are not mentally alert due to medicines or illness
  • Are older
  • Are on a breathing machine

What are the symptoms for Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

In older adults, the first sign of hospital-acquired pneumonia may be mental changes or confusion.

Other symptoms may include:

  • A cough with greenish or pus-like phlegm (sputum)
  • Fever and chills
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sharp chest pain that gets worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased blood pressure and fast heart rate

What are the current treatments for Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

Treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics through your veins (IV) to treat the lung infection. The antibiotic you are given will fight the germs that are found in your sputum culture or are suspected to be causing the infection.
  • Oxygen to help you breathe better and lung treatments to loosen and remove thick mucus from your lungs.
  • Ventilator (breathing machine) using a tube or a mask to support your breathing.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

People who have other serious illnesses do not recover as well from pneumonia as people who are not as sick.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be a life-threatening illness. Long-term lung damage may occur.

How do I prevent Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia?

People visiting loved ones in the hospital need to take steps to prevent spreading germs. The best way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands often. Stay home if you are sick. Keep your immunizations up to date.

After any surgery, you will be asked to take deep breaths and move around as soon as possible to help keep your lungs open. Follow the advice of your provider to help prevent pneumonia.

Most hospitals have programs to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

Hospital-acquired
Respiratory

REFERENCES

Chastre J, Luyt C-E. Ventilator-associated pneumonia. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 34.

Kalil AC, Metersky ML, Klompas M, et al. Management of adults with hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonia: 2016 clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Thoracic Society. Clin Infect Dis. 2016;63(5):e61-e111. PMID: 27418577 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27418577.

Klompas M. Nosocomial pneumonia. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 301.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Intubation-Associated Pneumonia
  • Journal: BMC anesthesiology
  • Treatment Used: TaperGuard Endotracheal Tube
  • Number of Patients: 15388
  • Published —
This study tested the safety and efficacy of using a TaperGuard endotracheal tube to prevent patients from acquiring postoperative pneumonia.
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Complicated Urinary Tract Infection, Complicated Intra-Abdominal Infection and/or Nosocomial Pneumonia, including Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in Adults
  • Journal: Drug safety
  • Treatment Used: Avibactam
  • Number of Patients: 4050
  • Published —
The study researched the safety of Avibactam.