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.
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:
Pneumonia occurs more often in patients who are using a breathing machine (respirator). This machine helps them breathe.
Hospital-acquired pneumonia can also be spread by health care workers, who can pass germs from their hands or clothes from one patient to another. This is why hand-washing, wearing gowns, and using other safety measures is so important in the hospital.
Patients who are more prone to getting pneumonia while in the hospital:
Symptoms may include:
Tests to check for hospital-acquired pneumonia may include:
Patients who have other serious illnesses do not recover as well from pneumonia as patients who are not as sick.
Hospital-acquired pneumonia can be a life-threatening illness. Long-term lung damage may occur.
Persons 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 to help keep your lungs open. Follow the advice of your doctor and nurse to help prevent pneumonia.
Most hospitals have programs to prevent hospital-acquired infections.
Nosocomial pneumonia; Ventilator-associated pneumonia; Health-care associated pneumonia; HCAP
American Thoracic Society. Guidelines for the management of adults with hospital-acquired, ventilator-associated, and healthcare-associated pneumonia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Feb 15;171(4):388-416.
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Craven DE, Chroneou A. Nosocomial pneumonia. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill-Livingstone; 2009:chap 303.
Fishman N, Calfee DP. Prevention and control of health care-associated infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 290.
Limper AH. Overview of pneumonia.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 97.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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