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Healthcare-Associated Pneumonia (Nosocomial Pneumonia)

Condition Basics

What is healthcare-associated pneumonia?

Healthcare-associated pneumonia is pneumonia that you get when you are in a hospital or nursing home. It's also called nosocomial pneumonia. Experts tend to think of it as a more serious illness than pneumonia that people get 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 more resistant to antibiotics and harder to treat than S. pneumoniae. So this kind of pneumonia may be harder to treat.

What puts you at risk?

You can get hospital-acquired pneumonia when you are in a hospital. You are more likely to get it if you:

  • Have another serious condition, especially another lung disease, such as COPD.
  • Aren't 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.
  • Are 55 or older.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include a cough that may produce mucus, a fever, and shortness of breath. You may feel very tired. Symptoms can start 2 days or more after you go into the hospital. They may also start shortly after being sent home.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. They will do a physical exam and listen to your lungs.

If your doctor thinks that you have this condition, a chest X-ray will be ordered. If needed, more imaging tests may be done. Your doctor may also check a sample of your mucus and may order blood tests.

How is healthcare-associated pneumonia treated?

Your doctor will start you on an antibiotic that treats the most likely causes of pneumonia. If testing finds which specific type of bacteria is causing the pneumonia, your doctor may change your antibiotic to target that bacteria. You may also be given fluids through a vein (I.V.) and oxygen.

Related Information


Current as of: June 13, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
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