Updated
January 24th, 2018

Most HAP Patients Are Under 65 Years Old

Hospital-acquired pneumonia interventions should be available for all patients in acute care hospitals

people in hospital, wheel chairs, smokinig

In the last ten years, reducing hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) has been a primary objective for most hospitals and public health officials.

Hospital-acquired pneumonia has long been focused on seniors over 65 years of age.

But according to a new study, HAP was found in every hospital unit, and of these HAP cases about 50 percent were younger, healthy patients.

This study indicates that although some elderly patients are clearly at higher risk, every patient carries some HAP infection risk while in a hospital.

Which means, HAP therapeutic interventions should be available for all patients in acute care hospitals.

The study is one of the first to challenge the standard belief that non-ventilator (NV) HAP predominantly impacts the elderly.

Additionally, this data reverses previously held notions that patients in the ICU are at greatest risk for contracting pneumonia.

This study found only 29 percent of patients acquired NV-HAP in the ICU.

Additionally, these researchers reported that basic pneumonia preventive measures were often absent during a hospital stay:

  • 81 percent did not receive incentive spirometry,
  • 67 percent did not undergo cough and deep breathing exercises,
  • 58 percent of patients diagnosed with NV-HAP did not receive oral care.

If a national effort was made to address NV-HAP, these researchers predict that with appropriate intervention to prevent NV-HAP by 50 percent, the USA could save approximately 9,886 lives, 487,622 extra hospital days, and $2.43 billion annually, said these researchers.

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“NV-HAP does not discriminate; all patients across all hospital floors face a risk for acquiring pneumonia,” said Dian Baker, Ph.D., RN, the study’s lead author and a school nurse program coordinator at the California State University School of Nursing.

But, if patients were immunized with a pneumococcal vaccine, HPA could also be reduced.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 years or older. Pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia is the most frequent form of pneumonia.

There are two kinds of vaccines that help prevent pneumococcal disease.

The CDC recommends vaccination with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13) for:

The CDC recommends vaccination with the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23) for:

  • All adults 65 years or older
  • People 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions
  • Adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes

Most pharmacies offer pneumococcal vaccines. The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information.

Vaccine discount information can be found here.

These researchers did not disclose any conflicts of interest. Correspondence information about the author Email the author Ph.D., RN Dian Baker, Barbara Quinn, MS, RN.