Compared to 2007,1 the 2019 ATS/IDSA guidelines2 have 2 major “Do’s” and 2 major “Dont’s” in the diagnostic approach to CAP in hospitalized patients:
- DO order sputum and blood cultures in patients empirically treated for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Pseudomonas aeruginosa—in addition to those with severe CAP as in 2007.
- DO order rapid influenza molecular assay—in preference to antigen test— when influenza viruses are circulating in community, irrespective of pneumonia severity
- DON’T routinely order urine antigens for pneumococcal or Legionella antigens, except in severe CAP or in the presence of suggestive epidemiological factors (eg. Legionella outbreak, recent travel)
- DON’t routinely order serum procalcitonin to determine need for initial antibacterial therapy
Patients at risk of MRSA or P. aeruginosa include those with prior infection with the same pathogens as well as those with hospitalization and treated with parenteral antibiotics—in or out of the hospital— in the last 90 days; HCAP is no longer recognized as an entity.
The definition of severe CAP is unchanged: 1 of 2 major criteria (septic shock or respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation) or 3 or more of the following minor criteria or findings listed below:
- Respiratory rate ≥30 breath/min
- Hypotension requiring aggressive fluid resuscitation
- Hypothermia (core temperature <36 ᵒC, 96.8 ᵒF)
- Leukopenia (WBC <4,000/ul)
- Thrombocytopenia (platelets <100,000/ul)
- BUN ≥20 mg/dl
- Pa02/FI02 ratio ≤250
Keep in mind that these guidelines focus on adults who are not immunocompromised or had recent foreign travel and are often based on expert opinion but low or very low quality evidence due to the dearth of properly designed studies.2
Bonus Pearl: Did you know that the urine Legionella antigen only tests for L. pneumophila type I, with an overall sensitivity ranging from 45% to 100%!3,4
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- Mandell LA, Wunderink RG, Anzueto A. Infectious Disease Society of America/American Thoracic Society Consensus Guidelines on the Management guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis 2007;44:S27-72. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17278083
- Metlay JP, Waterer GW, Long AC, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of adults with community-acquired pneumonia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2019;200:e45-e67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31573350
- Blazquez RM, Espinosa FJ, Martinez-Toldos CM, et al. Sensitivity of urinary antigen test in relation to clinical severity in a large outbreak of Legionella pneumonia in Spain. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2005;24:488-91. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15997369
- Marlow E, Whelan C. Legionella pneumonia and use of the Legionella urinary antigen test. J Hosp Med 2009;4:E1-E2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19301376
The most noticeable change is the elimination of the concept of health-care associated pneumonia (HCAP) altogether1. This action is in part related to the fact that many patients with HCAP were not at high risk for multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) , and that individual patient risk factors, not mere exposure to healthcare facilities, were better determinant of the need for broader spectrum antimicrobials.
Other noteworthy points in the guidelines include:
- Although hospital-associated pneumonia (HAP) is still defined as a pneumonia not incubating at the time of admission and occurring 48 hrs or more following hospitalization, it now only refers to non-VAP cases; VAP cases are considered a separate category.
- Emphasis is placed on each hospital generating antibiograms to guide providers with respect to the optimal choice of antibiotics.
- Despite lack of supportive evidence, the guidelines recommend obtaining respiratory samples for culture in patients with HAP.
- Prior intravenous antibiotic use within 90 days is cited as the only consistent risk factor for MDROs, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas sp.
- Kalil AC, Metersky ML, Klompas M, et al. Management of adults with hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonia: 2016 clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Thoracic Society. Clin Infect Dis 2016 ;63:e61-e111. Advance Access published July 14, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27418577
In MRSA pneumonia, the sensitivity of nasal swab PCR may vary from as low as 24.2% to 88% (1-3). A 2018 meta-analysis found an overall sensitivity of 70.9% (community-acquired pneumonia/healthcare-associated pneumonia [HCAP] 85%, ventilator-associated pneumonia 40%) with overall negative predictive value of 96.5% (based on an overall MRSA pneumonia prevalence of 10%) (4).
A single center study involving patients with possible HCAP and a low clinical pulmonary infection score (CPIS) — for whom antibiotics may not be necessary anyway (5)—suggested that discontinuation of empiric vancomycin in patients without an adequate respiratory culture and a negative nose and throat culture may be reasonable (6).
However, a prospective study of ICU patients concluded that “clinicians cannot reliably use the results of initial negative MRSA nasal swab results to withhold empirical MRSA coverage from patients who otherwise are at risk for MRSA infection” (3).
The previously cited 2018 meta-analysis study (4) cautions against use of MRSA screening in patients with structural lung disease (eg, cystic fibrosis or bronchiectasis) because colonization may be more frequent in the lower respiratory tract in these patients and screening tests may therefore be discordant (4).
Collectively, the available data suggest that it is reasonable to use a negative MRSA screen to help exclude pneumonia due to this pathogen in patients in whom MRSA infection is not highly suspected or those who are not severely ill.
- Rimawi RH, Ramsey KM, Shah KB, et al. Correlation between methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal sampling, and S. aureus pneumonia in the medical intensive care unit. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;35:590-92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24709733
- Dangerfield B, Chung A, Webb B, et al. Predictive value of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal swab PCR assay for MRSA pneumonia. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2014;58:859-64. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24277023
- Sarikonda KV, Micek ST, Doherty JA, et al. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization is a poor predictor of intensive care unit-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections requiring antibiotic treatment. Crit Care Med 2010;38:1991-1995. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20683260
- Parente DM Cunha CB Mylonakis E et al. The clinical utility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal screening to rule out MRSA pneumonia: A diagnostic meta-analysis with antimicrobial stewardship implications. Clin Infect Dis 208;67:1-7.
- Napolitano LM. Use of severity scoring and stratification factors in clinical trials of hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Clin Infect Dis 2010;51:S67-S80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20597675
- Boyce JM, Pop O-F, Abreu-Lanfranco O, et al. A trial of discontinuation of empiric vancomycin therapy in patients with suspected methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus health care-associated pneumonia. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2013;57:1163-1168. http://aac.asm.org/content/57/3/1163.full.pdf
Not necessarily. In fact, the original study showed more relapses among patients with Pseudomonas aeruginosa nosocomial pneumonia treated for 8 days compared to 15 days, and concluded that the results did not apply to “non-fermenting gram negative bacilli” (1). For methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) pneumonia, the data on the effectiveness of the shorter course therapy is quite limited (1,2) . So for patients with pneumonia due to organisms such as P. aeruginosa or MRSA I routinely extend the course of antibiotics to at least 2 weeks.
1. Chastre J, Wolff M, Fagon JY. Comparison of 8 vs 15 days of antibiotic therapy for ventilator-associated pneumonia in adults: a randomized trial. JAMA 2003;290:2588-98.
2. Rubinstein E, Kollef MH, Nathwani D. Pneumonia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Clin Infect Dis 2008;46 (Suppl5):S378-385.