The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) have published draft guidance on antimicrobial prescribing for hospital-acquired and community-acquired pneumonia, setting out a strategy designed to optimise antibiotic use and reduce antibiotic resistance.

The new guidelines advise that antibiotics should be given to people with community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia within four hours of establishing a diagnosis.

It also provides detailed prescribing advice on hospital‑acquired infections that suggest treatment should be reviewed after five days, and stopping the antibiotic if the person is clinically stable. Regarding community‑acquired infections, new recommendations say that antibiotics should be stopped after five days unless the person is not clinically stable.

Paul Chrisp, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: “In patients where there is a suspected case of pneumonia, it’s important that they are given the antibiotics they need as soon as possible. Microbiological testing helps determine what antibiotic will be most effective and helps limit antimicrobial resistance.

“These recommendations will provide healthcare professionals with advice on how to treat pneumonia effectively with antibiotics whilst also making responsible prescribing decisions to promote antimicrobial stewardship and preserve the future effectiveness of antibiotics."

It is advised that shorter courses of antibiotics should be prescribed where appropriate to limit the risk of antimicrobial resistance, it’s important to note that pneumonia can be a life-threatening infection and therefore, an effective course length is important.