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Digging deeper into the incidence of VAP

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a lung infection that develops when germs enter through the breathing tube and into the patient’s lungs. It is one of the most frequent health care-associated infections found in intensive-care units across the country, affecting nearly 80% of patients intubated for longer than 24 hours.1

With VAP being associated with a high mortality rate and increased health care costs, how much do really know about VAP in relation to the hospitals in which it occurs? With most research on this topic coming out of large academic/teaching hospitals, researchers decided to study the prevalence of VAP in small community hospitals, where patient care is generally short term.

The study, which was published by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, reviewed 247 cases of VAP from 31 community hospitals in the southeastern United States from 2007-2011.2

The findings show that smaller community hospitals have a higher rate of VAP than larger academic/teaching hospitals, with a higher incidence than reported nationally in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for non-teaching hospitals.3

“Although it is unclear why small community hospitals experience more cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia, it may be related to limited familiarity with ventilator use and fewer specialty health care workers, such as respiratory therapists,” said Deverick Anderson, MD, MPH, an author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Duke University and co-director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network.

The findings suggest that these hospitals may need additional resources to care for these critically ill patients. “Our research may also suggest that staff at community hospitals are inexperienced with evidence-based protocols to prevent pneumonia in these under-resourced settings,” said Anderson.


  1. CDC
  2. Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
  3. CDC\