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Guidelines Help Doctors Battle Pneumonia

They match up bacteria strains with appropriate antibiotics

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors now have new guidelines to spot and treat pneumonia bacteria in hospital patients.

Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., created the guidelines after analyzing patient characteristics and pneumonia bacteria present in the hospital.

"We matched the best antibiotic combination to each patient's characteristics and the particular bugs that we have in our hospital. We learned that some of the commonly recommended drugs wouldn't have worked for many of our patients," study author James Beardsley said in a prepared statement.

Antibiotic therapy based on the new guidelines will target the correct pneumonia bacteria in at least 90 percent of cases where there's a risk of treatment resistance, compared to about 70 percent if national guidelines were followed, the researchers said.

The article was published in the September issue of Chest.

It can typically take two to three days for laboratory tests to pinpoint the bacteria that has caused pneumonia in a hospital patient. But treatment must start immediately, so doctors generally use an antibiotic that's effective against bacteria that most commonly cause pneumonia. However, some patients may be infected with bacteria that are resistant to these drugs, the researchers noted.

"The choice of which antibiotics to start is very important. They need to cover the germs that are causing the pneumonia in that particular patient. If you're not right from the start, people are at higher risk of dying," Beardsley said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about hospital-acquired pneumonia.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Sept. 11, 2006
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