Challenges in severe community-acquired pneumonia: a point-of-view review

Intensive Care Med. 2019 Feb;45(2):159-171. doi: 10.1007/s00134-019-05519-y. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


Purpose: Severe community-acquired pneumonia (SCAP) is still associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. In this point-of-view review paper, a group of experts discuss the main controversies in SCAP: the role of severity scores to guide patient settings of care and empiric antibiotic therapy; the emergence of pathogens outside the core microorganisms of CAP; viral SCAP; the best empirical treatment; septic shock as the most lethal complication; and the need for new antibiotics.

Methods: For all topics, the authors describe current controversies and evidence and provide recommendations and suggestions for future research. Evidence was based on meta-analyses, most recent RCTs and recent interventional or observational studies. Recommendations were reached by consensus of all the authors.

Results and conclusions: The IDSA/ATS criteria remain the most pragmatic tool to predict ICU admission. The authors recommend a combination of a beta-lactam/beta-lactamase inhibitor or a third G cephalosporin plus a macrolide in most SCAP patients, and to empirically cover PES (P. aeruginosa, extended spectrum beta-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae, methicillin-resistant S. aureus) pathogens when at least two specific risk factors are present. In patients with influenza CAP, the authors recommend the use of oseltamivir and avoidance of the use of steroids. Corticosteroids can be used in case of refractory shock and high systemic inflammatory response.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Multidrug resistance; Scoring systems; Septic shock; Severe community-acquired pneumonia; Viral pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects
  • Enterobacteriaceae / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • beta-Lactamases


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • beta-Lactamases