Introduction: The identification and management of adults presenting with pneumonia is a major challenge for primary care health professionals. This paper summarises the key recommendations of the British Thoracic Society (BTS) Guidelines for the management of Community Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) in adults.
Method: Systematic electronic database searches were conducted in order to identify potentially relevant studies that might inform guideline recommendations. Generic study appraisal checklists and an evidence grading from A+ to D were used to indicate the strength of the evidence upon which recommendations were made.
Conclusions: This paper provides definitions, key messages, and recommendations for handling the uncertainty surrounding the clinical diagnosis, assessing severity, management, and follow-up of patients with CAP in the community setting. Diagnosis and decision on hospital referral in primary care is based on clinical judgement and the CRB-65 score. Unlike some other respiratory infections (e.g. acute bronchitis) an antibiotic is always indicated when a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia is made. Timing of initial review will be determined by disease severity. When there is a delay in symptom or radiographic resolution beyond six weeks, the main concern is whether the CAP was a complication of an underlying condition such as lung cancer.