Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and since 1993, guidelines for management have been available. The process, which first began in the United States and Canada, has now been implemented in numerous countries throughout the world, and often each geographic region or country develops locally specific recommendations. It is interesting to realize that guidelines from different regions often interpret the same evidence base differently, and guidelines differ from one country to another, even though the bacteriology of CAP is often more similar than different from one region to another. One of the unique contributions of the 2007 US guidelines is the inclusion of quality and performance measures. In addition, US guidelines emphasize management principles that differ from some of the principles in European guidelines because of unique epidemiological considerations. In addition, certain therapy principles apply in the United States that differ from those in other regions, including the need for all patients to receive routine therapy for atypical pathogens, the emergence of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in some patients following influenza, and the need for all patients admitted to the intensive care unit to receive at least two antimicrobial agents. In the future, as guidelines evolve, there will be an important place for regional guidelines, particularly if these guidelines can recommend locally specific strategies to implement guidelines, which if successful, can lead to improved patient outcomes.
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