Pneumonia patients prefer home care

One-third of the three million adults diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in the United States each year are initially hospitalized. Nevertheless, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that most patients at low risk of death from CAP prefer to be treated at home.

Researchers surveyed 159 low-risk CAP patients for whom outpatient therapy would be an option. Study results include the following:

• Eighty percent of patients reported they preferred home-based care for the present episode of low-risk CAP, including 60% who were initially hospitalized.

• Nearly 75% of patients were willing to pay an average of 24% of one month’s average household income to be assured of a home care preference.

• Sixty-nine percent of patients felt that the attending physician alone made the decision for home or hospital treatment.

• Only 9% of patients reported that they alone, or with their families, made the decision about home or hospital care.

• Only 11% of patients reported remembering being asked if they had a care setting preference.

Researchers concluded that most patients with low-risk CAP should be informed of their favorable prognosis and encouraged to play a role in the decision for hospital or home care.

(See: Coley CM, Li YH, et al. Preferences for home vs. hospital care among low-risk patients with community-acquired pneumonia. Arch Int Med 1996; 156:1565-1571.)