Updated guidance on antibiotic prescribing for pneumonia

NICE and Public Health England have published two draft guidelines on antimicrobial prescribing for pneumonia to optimise antibiotic use and reduce antibiotic resistance.

The guidelines advise that antibiotics should be given to people with community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia within four hours of establishing a diagnosis. Oral antibiotics should be first-line treatment if possible with intravenous antibiotics for severe infection, and the choice of antibiotics should be reviewed once results from any microbiological testing are available.

Shorter courses of antibiotics should be prescribed where appropriate to limit the risk of antimicrobial resistance but it is important to note that pneumonia can be a life-threatening infection and an effective course length is important.

This new guidance provides detailed prescribing advice on hospital-acquired infections that suggest treatment should be reviewed after five days and stopped if the patient is clinically stable. In community-acquired pneumonia, antibiotics should be stopped after five days unless the patient is not clinically stable.

Dr Susan Hopkins, deputy director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said: "Rapid treatment of pneumonia is vital, but these new guidelines seek to refine the length of time that patients are using antibiotics in order to tackle resistance. By supporting clinicians to make treatment decisions based on the risk factors that impact the progression of pneumonia, we can encourage appropriate and targeted use of antibiotics."