Background: Pneumonia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among patients in long-term care facilities.
Objectives: To conduct a prospective study of 108 consecutive patients who acquired pneumonia in a Veterans Affairs facility from January through December 1993, and to identify (1) the short- and long-term outcome of pneumonia, (2) the determinants of outcome, and (3) the frequency of recurrent episodes.
Methods: Patient characteristics, including scores from the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) Index of Katz et al and the Comorbidity Index of Charlson et al, were recorded End points were survival at 14 days and 12 and 24 months, recurrent episodes of pneumonia, and hospitalization for nonpneumonic illness.
Results: Fourteen-day mortality was 19%; outcome was significantly related to the ADL score. There was no relationship between short-term outcome and age or the Comorbidity Index score. Mortalities at 12 and 24 months were 59% and 75%, respectively. Long-term survival also correlated with the ADL score. For the least debilitated patients (ie, those with an ADL score < or = 10), mortalities were 33% and 48% at 12 and 24 months, respectively; for those with ADL scores of 11 to 15, the corresponding mortalities were 60% and 75%; and for those with ADL scores of 16 or greater, the mortalities were 65% and 77% (P = .02). Within 12 months, 43% of the survivors had additional episodes, and 37% required transfer to an acute care facility for other diagnoses. Functional status did not change among the most dependent patients.
Conclusions: Functional status is the major determinant of survival following pneumonia. Pneumonia in a debilitated patient in a long-term care facility predicts recurrent pneumonia and death within 1 to 2 years.