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By Targeting Specific Germs, Hospital Hopes to Improve Pneumonia Treatment

By analyzing patient characteristics and the particular bacteria causing some patients to develop pneumonia during hospital stays// , Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has developed treatment guidelines to more effectively target the germs.

“We matched the best antibiotic combination to each patient’s characteristics and the particular bugs that we have in our hospital,” said James Beardsley, Pharm.D., lead author of the article in this month’s issue of the journal Chest. “We learned that some of the commonly recommended drugs wouldn’t have worked for many of our patients.”

The researchers estimate that antibiotic therapy under the new hospital-specific guidelines will target the correct bacteria in at least 90 percent of cases at risk of being resistant to treatment. If national guidelines were followed, treatment may have correctly targeted the germs in only 70 percent of cases.

Pneumonia is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections. The American Thoracic Society and the Infectious Diseases Society of America joined together to publish national guidelines for treating pneumonia that develops in health care settings, often as a result of patients being on respirators.

Once a patient develops pneumonia, it takes two or three days for laboratory tests to determine exactly what bacteria caused the illness. But treatment must begin right away, so physicians generally use an antibiotic known to be effective against the bacteria that most commonly cause pneumonia. Some patients, especially those who have been in the hospital for several days, are at risk of being infected with bacteria that are resistant to these drugs. This can make it challenging to select the correct antibiotics.

“The choice of which antibiotics to start is very important,” said Beardsley. “They need to cover the germs that are causing the pneumonia in that particular patient. If you’re not right from the start, people ar
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