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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Clinical implications for patients treated inappropriately for community-acquired pneumonia in the emergency department

Scott T Micek1, Adam Lang2, Brian M Fuller3, Nicholas B Hampton4 and Marin H Kollef5*

Author Affiliations

1 St. Louis College of Pharmacy, 4588 Parkview Place, St. Louis, MO 63110-1088, USA

2 Creighton University, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178, USA

3 Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8072, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

4 BJC Learning Institute, 8300 Eager Road, Mail Stop 92-92-241, St. Louis, MO 63144, USA

5 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8052, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-61

Published: 5 February 2014



Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is one of the most common infections presenting to the emergency department (ED). Increasingly, antibiotic resistant bacteria have been identified as causative pathogens in patients treated for CAP, especially in patients with healthcare exposure risk factors.


We retrospectively identified adult subjects treated for CAP in the ED requiring hospital admission (January 2003-December 2011). Inappropriate antibiotic treatment, defined as an antibiotic regimen that lacked in vitro activity against the isolated pathogen, served as the primary end point. Information regarding demographics, severity of illness, comorbidities, and antibiotic treatment was recorded. Logistic regression was used to determine factors independently associated with inappropriate treatment.


The initial cohort included 259 patients, 72 (27.8%) receiving inappropriate antibiotic treatment. There was no difference in hospital mortality between patients receiving inappropriate and appropriate treatment (8.3% vs. 7.0%; p = 0.702). Hospital length of stay (10.3 ± 12.0 days vs. 7.0 ± 8.9 days; p = 0.017) and 30-day readmission (23.6% vs. 12.3%; p = 0.024) were greater among patients receiving inappropriate treatment. Three variables were independently associated with inappropriate treatment: admission from long-term care (AOR, 9.05; 95% CI, 3.93-20.84), antibiotic exposure in the previous 30 days (AOR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.35-2.52), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AOR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.52-2.78).


Inappropriate antibiotic treatment of presumed CAP in the ED negatively impacts patient outcome and readmission rate. Knowledge of risk factors associated with inappropriate antibiotic treatment of presumed CAP could advance the management of patients with pneumonia presenting to the ED and potentially improve patient outcomes.

Pneumonia; Antibiotics; Resistant pathogens; Outcomes