Nosocomial pneumonia; Ventilator-associated pneumonia; Health-care associated pneumonia; HCAP
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 people who are using a 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 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:
In an elderly person, the first sign of hospital-acquired pneumonia may be mental changes or confusion
Other symptoms may include:
Tests to check for hospital-acquired pneumonia may include:
Treatments may include:
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.
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 health care provider to help prevent pneumonia.
Most hospitals have programs to prevent hospital-acquired infections.
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;171:388-416. PMID: 15699079
Chastre J, Luyt CE. Ventilator-associated pneumonia. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 34.
Klompas M. Nosocomial pneumonia. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 303.
Last reviewed on: 2/2/2015
Reviewed by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.