Practical considerations and guidelines for the management of community-acquired pneumonia

Drugs. 1998 Jan;55(1):31-45. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199855010-00003.


Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a common condition which has a significant mortality. The management of a patient with CAP is centred around assessment and correction of gas exchange and fluid balance together with administration of appropriate antibiotics. Up to 10 different pathogens regularly cause CAP, of which Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most important. These different pathogens cannot be distinguished by clinical features or simple laboratory tests. Microbiological tests are slow and insensitive, so empirical therapy is necessary, at least initially. Accurate assessment of illness severity is the most important factor determining initial management, since this assists the decision of whether to admit the patient to hospital in addition to guiding antibiotic choice and route of administration. Two different approaches to severity assessment are outlined. Our antibiotic recommendation for empirical therapy for the patient managed at home and the previously fit patient admitted to hospital is amoxicillin. Amoxicillin/clavulanate plus a macrolide is our choice for the severely ill previously fit patient and a third-generation cephalosporin plus a macrolide is recommended for the severely ill patient with comorbidity. Alternative pathogens and specific treatment regimens are also described. There may be several causes of treatment failure, and in patients who fail to respond to therapy, it is essential to review all the initial clinical and laboratory information, which if necessary must be repeated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia / microbiology
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • Pneumonia, Staphylococcal / drug therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents