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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020 Mar;21(3):315-321. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.01.012. Epub 2020 Feb 13.

Nursing Home-Associated Pneumonia, Part II: Etiology and Treatment.

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Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. Electronic address:


This is the second of 2 parts of a narrative review of nursing home-associated pneumonia (NHAP) that deals with etiology and treatment in the nursing home. In the 1980s and 1990s, the etiology of NHAP was considered to be similar to community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). This belief was reflected in CAP guidelines until 2005 when the designation healthcare-associated pneumonia or HCAP was introduced and nursing home residents were included in the HCAP category. Patients in the HCAP group were thought to be at high risk for pneumonia because of multidrug resistant organisms and required empiric broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy much like people with hospital-acquired infection. Subsequent studies of the etiology of NHAP using sophisticated diagnostic testing found limited evidence of resistant organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or resistant gram-negative organisms or atypical organisms. In terms of management of NHAP in the nursing home there are several considerations that are discussed: hospitalization decision, initial oral or parenteral therapy, timing of switch to an oral regimen if parenteral therapy is initially prescribed, duration of therapy with an emphasis on shorter courses, and follow-up during therapy including the use of the "antibiotic time out" protocol. The oral and parenteral antibiotic regimens recommended for treatment of NHAP in this report are based on limited information because there are no randomized controlled trials to define the optimum regimen. In conclusion, most residents with pneumonia can be treated successfully in the nursing home. However, there is an urgent need for a specific NHAP diagnosis and treatment guideline that will give providers guidance in the management of this infection in the nursing home.


Nursing home; etiology; pneumonia; treatment

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