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Pneumonia in adults: diagnosis and management

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Last updated:3rd Dec 2014

This guideline covers diagnosing and managing community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia in adults. It aims to improve accurate assessment and diagnosis of pneumonia to help guide antibiotic prescribing and ensure that people receive the right treatment.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue. When a person has pneumonia the air sacs in their lungs become filled with microorganisms, fluid and inflammatory cells and their lungs are not able to work properly. Diagnosis of pneumonia is based on symptoms and signs of an acute lower respiratory tract infection, and can be confirmed by a chest X-ray showing new shadowing that is not due to any other cause (such as pulmonary oedema or infarction). In this guideline pneumonia is classified as community-acquired or hospital-acquired, based on different microbial causes and patient factors, which need different management strategies.

In September 2019 we withdrew some recommendations on community-acquired pneumonia and hospital-acquired pneumonia because they have been replaced by recommendations in the NICE guidelines on pneumonia (community-acquired): antimicrobial prescribing and pneumonia (hospital-acquired): antimicrobial prescribing.

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