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. Hospital-acquired pneumonia tends to be more serious than other lung infections because:
Hospital-acquired pneumonia occurs more often in patients who are using a respirator machine to help them breathe. This machine is also called a ventilator. This type of pneumonia is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia.
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. That is why hand-washing, wearing gowns, and using other safety measures is so important in the hospital.
Patients who are more prone to getting hospital-acquired pneumonia:
In an elderly person, the first sign of hospital-acquired pneumonia may be mental changes or confusion. Other symptoms are:
Tests to check for hospital-acquired pneumonia may include:
You will receive antibiotics through your veins (IV) to treat your lung infection. The antibiotic you are given will fight the germs that are in your sputum culture.
You may also receive oxygen to help you breathe better and lung treatments to loosen and remove thick mucus from your lungs.
Patients who have other serious conditions 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.
Wash your hands for at least 1 minute, like this:
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
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.
Chastre J, Luyt CE. Ventilator-associated pneumonia. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al. Murray& Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 33.
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. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia,PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 290.
Limper AH. Overview of pneumonia.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia,PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 97.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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