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Epidemiology of Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia in a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital

  • Allan J. Walkey (a1), Christine Campbell Reardon (a1) (a2), Carol A. Sulis (a1) (a2), R. Nicholas Nace (a3) and Martin Joyce-Brady (a1) (a2)...



To characterize the epidemiology and microbiology of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH).


Retrospective study of prospectively identified cases of VAP.


Single-center, 207-bed LTACH with the capacity to house 42 patients requiring mechanical ventilation, evaluated from April 1, 2006, through January 31, 2008.


Data on the occurrence of VAP were collected prospectively as part of routine infection surveillance at Radius Specialty Hospital. After March 2006, Radius Specialty Hospital implemented a bundle of interventions for the prevention of VAP (hereafter referred to as the VAP-bundle approach). A case of VAP was defined as a patient who required mechanical ventilation at Radius Specialty Hospital for at least 48 hours before any symptoms of pneumonia appeared and who met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for VAP. Sputum samples were collected from a tracheal aspirate if there was clinical suspicion of VAP, and these samples were semi-quantitatively cultured.


During the 22-month study period, 23 cases of VAP involving 19 patients were associated with 157 LTACH admissions (infection rate, 14.6%), corresponding to a rate of 1.67 cases per 1,000 ventilator-days, which is a 56% reduction from the VAP rate of 3.8 cases per 1,000 ventilator-days reported before the implementation of the VAP-bundle approach (P<.001). Microbiological data were available for 21 (91%) of 23 cases of VAP. Cases of VAP in the LTACH were frequently polymicrobial (mean number ± SD, 1.78 ± 1.0 pathogens per case of VAP), and 20 (95%) of 21 cases of VAP had at least 1 pathogen (Pseudomonas species, Acinetobacter species, gram-negative bacilli resistant to more than 3 antibiotics, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) cultured from a sputum sample. LTACH patients with VAP were more likely to have a neurological reason for ventilator dependence, compared with LTACH patients without VAP (69.6% of cases of VAP vs 39% of cases of respiratory failure; P = .014). In addition, patients with VAP had a longer length of LTACH stay, compared with patients without VAP (median length of stay, 131 days vs 39 days; P = .002). In 6 (26%) of 23 cases of VAP, the patient was eventually weaned from use of mechanical ventilation. Of the 19 patients with VAP, 1 (5%) did not survive the LTACH stay.


The VAP rate in the LTACH is lower than the VAP rate reported in acute care hospitals. Cases of VAP in the LTACH were frequently polymicrobial and were associated with multidrug-resistant pathogens and increased length of stay. The guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are aimed at reducing cases of VAP appear to be effective if applied in the LTACH setting.


Corresponding author

The Pulmonary Center, Boston University School of Medicine, R-304, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118 (


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