Objective: To synthesize the available clinical data for the prevention of hospital-associated pneumonia (HAP) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) into a practical guideline for clinicians.
Data source: A Medline database and references from identified articles were used to perform a literature search relating to the prevention of HAP/VAP.
Conclusions: There is convincing evidence to suggest that specific interventions can be employed to prevent HAP/VAP. The evidence-based interventions focus on the prevention of aerodigestive tract colonization (avoidance of unnecessary antibiotics and stress ulcer prophylaxis, use of sucralfate for stress ulcer prophylaxis, chlorhexidine oral rinse, selective digestive decontamination, short-course parenteral prophylactic antibiotics in high-risk patients) and the prevention of aspiration of contaminated secretions (preferred oral intubation, appropriate intensive care unit staffing, avoidance of tracheal intubation with the use of mask ventilation, application of weaning protocols and optimal use of sedation to shorten the duration of mechanical ventilation, semirecumbent positioning, minimization of gastric distension, subglottic suctioning, avoidance of ventilator circuit changes/manipulation, routine drainage of ventilator circuit condensate). Clinicians caring for patients at risk for HAP/VAP should promote the development and application of local programs encompassing these interventions based on local resource availability, occurrence rates of HAP/VAP, and the prevalence of infection due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter species, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).