What guidelines are available for management of nosocomial pneumonia?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021
  • Author: Kartika Shetty, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
  • Print


All patients with presumed nosocomial pneumonia should undergo testing to rule out conditions that mimic nosocomial pneumonia. The diagnosis of nosocomial pneumonia is difficult because it may present in a very nonspecific fashion.

Many conditions other than nosocomial pneumonia mimic pulmonary infiltrates (eg, fluid, atelectasis) on chest radiographs.

In 2016, the Infectious Disease Society of America and American Thoracic Society published guideline on management of adults with hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). [4] .Our treatment discussion is congruent with these guidelines.

  • In order to tailor optimal choice of antibiotics and guide healthcare professionals, it is advised that each hospital generate facility specific antibiograms.
  • In an effort to minimize patient harm and exposure to unnecessary antibiotics and reduce the development of antibiotic resistance, the guidelines recommend that the antibiogram data be used to decrease the unnecessary use of dual gram-negative and empiric methicillin-resistant  Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) antibiotic treatment.
  • Suggest noninvasive sampling with semiquantitative cultures to diagnose VAP, rather than invasive sampling with quantitative cultures or noninvasive sampling with quantitative cultures.
  • However, the panel recognizes that invasive quantitative cultures will occasionally be performed by some clinicians. For patients with suspected VAP whose invasive quantitative culture results are below the diagnostic threshold for VAP, the guidelines suggest that antibiotics be withheld rather than continued.
  • Suggest that patients with suspected HAP (non-VAP) be treated according to the results of microbiologic studies performed on respiratory samples obtained noninvasively, rather than being treated empirically.
  • For patients with suspected HAP/VAP, the guidelines recommend using clinical criteria alone, rather than using serum procalcitonin (PCT) plus clinical criteria, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) sTREM-1 plus clinical criteria, or C-reactive protein (CRP) plus clinical criteria to decide whether to initiate antibiotic therapy.
  • In patients with suspected VAP, include coverage for  S aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and other gram-negative bacilli in all empiric regimens.
  • If empiric coverage for MRSA is indicated, either vancomycin or linezolid is recommended.
  • When empiric treatment that includes coverage for MSSA (and not MRSA) is indicated, the guidelines suggest a regimen including piperacillin-tazobactam, cefepime, levofloxacin, imipenem, or meropenem. 
  • Oxacillin, nafcillin, and cefazolin are preferred agents for treatment of proven MSSA, but are not necessary for the empiric treatment of VAP if one of the above agents is used.
  • For patients being treated empirically for HAP, prescribe an antibiotic with activity against  S aureus.
  • For patients with HAP/VAP due to  P aeruginosa, the guidelines recommend that the choice of an antibiotic for definitive (not empiric) therapy be based on the results of antimicrobial susceptibility testing.
  • For patients with VAP or HAP, a 7-day course of antimicrobial therapy is recommended, as well as antibiotic de-escalation. When the final culture and sensitivity results are available, the empiric broad-spectrum regimen should be converted to more narrow and specific coverage.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!