Pneumonia in the intensive care unit

Crit Care Med. 2003 Oct;31(10):2544-51. doi: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000089928.84326.D2.


Objective: To update the state-of-the-art on pneumonia in adult patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), with special emphasis on new developments in management.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, using the following keywords: hospital-acquired pneumonia, ventilator-associated pneumonia and healthcare-associated pneumonia, diagnosis, therapy, prevention.

Results: Interventions to prevent pneumonia in the ICU should combine multiple measures targeting the invasive devices, microorganisms, and protection of the patient. Once pneumonia develops, the appropriateness of the initial antibiotic regimen is a vital determinant of outcome. Three questions should be formulated: a) Is the patient at risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus?; b) Is Acinetobacter baumannii a problem in the institution?; and c) is the patient at risk of Pseudomonas aeruginosa? Antibiotic therapy should be started immediately and must circumvent pathogen-resistance mechanisms developed after previous antibiotic exposure. Therefore, antibiotic choice should be institution specific and patient oriented. Microbiologic investigation is useful on evaluating the quality of the respiratory sample and permits early modification of the regimen in light of the microbiologic findings.

Conclusion: A decision tree outlining an approach to the evaluation and management of ventilator-associated pneumonia is provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cross Infection* / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection* / physiopathology
  • Cross Infection* / prevention & control
  • Decision Trees
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Pneumonia* / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia* / physiopathology
  • Pneumonia* / prevention & control
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents