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Management of Community-Acquired Pneumonia

A Focus on Conversion from Hospital to the Ambulatory Setting

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Patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) are treated in hospital or in the ambulatory care setting depending on the severity of illness. Despite numerous guidelines proposed, there is no agreement on specific criteria for hospitalization other than the clinicians’ experience. The purpose of this review is to discuss the importance of the appropriate choice and timely administration of antibacterial agents, either in the hospital or in the outpatient setting.

Since a high proportion of CAP patients will not have an etiologic agent identified at the time of initiation of treatment, the choice of antibacterial therapy is usually empiric. Antibacterial agents with activity against pneumococci and atypical pathogens causing pneumonia are the preferred choices. Macrolides, doxycycline, or respiratory fluoroquinolones have been recommended by various guidelines committees in North America for the treatment of pneumonia in patients with or without underlying comorbidities. Because of the increasing resistance to β-lactams as well other antibacterial agents such as macrolides, doxycycline, and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (cotrimoxazole), it is important that clinicians are aware of local statistics on resistance to Streptococcus pneumoniae, as infection with this bacterium is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. More recently, fluoroquinolone resistance has been reported, but the percentage of pneumococcal strains resistant to this agent is relatively low compared with the other antibacterial agents.

Switch (intravenous to oral) therapy is recommended for hospitalized patients with CAP to facilitate early discharge, which has been shown to improve patient satisfaction and reduce hospital costs. Early conversion to oral therapy has not been shown to be associated with increased complications or higher mortality. Following prompt intravenous therapy and stabilization, patients with CAP should be treated with oral therapy in the ambulatory setting.

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No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this manuscript. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dr James S. Tan.

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Tan, J.S., File, T.M. Management of Community-Acquired Pneumonia. Am J Respir Med 2, 385–394 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03256666

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  • Macrolide
  • Antibacterial Therapy
  • Pneumonia Severity Index
  • Macrolide Resistance
  • Switch Therapy