Healthcare-associated pneumonia: is there any reason to continue to utilize this label in 2019?

Santiago Ewig (Lead / Corresponding author), Martin Kolditz, Mathias W. Pletz, James Chalmers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is an ongoing controversy on the role of the healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP) label in the treatment of patients with pneumonia.

Objective: To provide an update of the literature on patients meeting criteria for HCAP between 2014 and 2018.

Sources: The review is based on a systematic literature search using PubMed-Central full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).

Content: Studies compared clinical characteristics of patients with HCAP and community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). HCAP patients were older and had a higher comorbidity. Mortality rates in HCAP varied from 5% to 33%, but seemed lower than those cited in the initial reports. Criteria behind the HCAP classification differed considerably within populations. Microbial patterns differed in that there was a higher incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and, to a lesser extent, enterobacteriaceae. Definitions and rates of multidrug-resistant (MDR) pneumonia also varied considerably. Broad-spectrum guideline-concordant treatment did not reduce mortality in four observational studies. The HCAP criteria performed poorly as a predictive tool to identify MDR pneumonia or pathogens not covered by treatment for CAP. A new score (Drug Resistance in Pneumonia, DRIP) outperformed HCAP in the prediction of MDR pathogens. Comorbidity and functional status, but not different microbial patterns, seem to account for increased mortality.

Implications: HCAP should no longer be used to identify patients at risk of MDR pathogens. The use of validated predictive scores along with implementation of de-escalation strategies and careful individual assessment of comorbidity and functional status seem superior strategies for clinical management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1173-1179
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number10
Early online date27 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Antimicrobial treatment
  • Multiresistance
  • Pneumonia
  • Preditive rules
  • Treatment failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Healthcare-associated pneumonia: is there any reason to continue to utilize this label in 2019?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this