Which Nursing Home Residents With Pneumonia Are Managed On-Site and Which Are Hospitalized? Results from 2 Years' Surveillance in 14 US Homes

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020 Dec;21(12):1862-1868.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.07.028. Epub 2020 Aug 30.


Objectives: Pneumonia is a frequent cause of hospitalization among nursing home (NH) residents, but little information is available as to how clinical presentation and other characteristics relate to hospitalization, and the differential use of antimicrobials based on hospitalization status. This study examined how hospitalized and nonhospitalized NH residents with pneumonia differ.

Design: Data from a 2-year prospective study of residents who participated in a randomized controlled trial.

Setting and participants: All residents from 14 NHs in North Carolina followed for pneumonia over a 2-year period.

Methods: Clinical features, antimicrobial treatment, hospitalization, and demographic data on residents with a pneumonia diagnosis were abstracted from charts; NH information was obtained from NH administrators.

Results: A total of 509 pneumonia episodes were reported for 395 unique residents; the incidence was not higher in the winter months, and 28% were hospitalized. The likelihood of hospitalization did not differ by clinical characteristics except that residents with a respiratory rate >25 breaths per minute were more likely to be hospitalized. Being on hospice [odds ratio (OR) 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.5-7.4] and not having dementia (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.2) also related to increased likelihood of hospitalization. Fluoroquinolone (usually levofloxacin) monotherapy was the most common treatment (54%) in both settings, and ceftriaxone monotherapy varied by hospitalization status (7% of hospitalized vs 16% treated on-site). Approximately 36% of nonhospitalized residents received antimicrobials for more than 7 days.

Conclusions/implications: Respiratory rate is associated with hospitalization but was not documented for more than a quarter of residents, suggesting the clinical benefit of more consistently conducting this assessment. Differential hospitalization rates for persons with dementia and on hospice suggest that care is being tailored to individuals' wishes, but this assumption merits study, as does use of fluoroquinolones (due to side effects) and treatment duration (due to potential contribution to antibiotic resistance).

Keywords: Pneumonia; antimicrobial prescribing; elderly; hospitalization; nursing homes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • North Carolina
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Pneumonia* / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia* / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies