Healthcare-associated pneumonia (nosocomial)

What is healthcare-associated pneumonia?

Healthcare-associated pneumonia (nosocomial pneumonia) is pneumonia that you get when you are in a hospital or nursing home. Experts generally consider it a more serious condition than pneumonia that develops in daily life (community-associated pneumonia). This is because the person with healthcare-associated pneumonia may already have a serious illness. Healthcare-associated pneumonia is also often caused by bacteria other than Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes most cases of pneumonia. These other bacteria may be stronger and more resistant to antibiotics than S. pneumoniae. These factors make it more difficult to treat.

You are more likely to get healthcare-associated pneumonia if you:

  • Have another serious condition, especially another lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Are not eating enough healthy foods and are malnourished.
  • Have a weak immune system.
  • Have been in the hospital for a long time.
  • Are taking many antibiotics.

What are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?

Symptoms of healthcare-associated pneumonia include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough with mucus.
  • Changes in a lung exam or lab test.

It is important to diagnose the condition quickly. If your doctor thinks you have healthcare-associated pneumonia, you will have a chest X-ray, and your doctor will examine a sample of your mucus and blood.

How is healthcare-associated pneumonia treated?

Doctors use antibiotics to treat healthcare-associated pneumonia. Your doctor will probably give you an antibiotic that kills many different bacteria (wide-spectrum) immediately, before he or she can identify the type of bacteria causing the infection. Once your doctor knows the specific type of bacteria, he or she may change your antibiotic to target it.

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