illustration of pneumonia

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Ventilator-acquired pneumonia (VAP) is an infection that occurs in people who are on a mechanical ventilator for more than 48 hours. It happens in as many as 22.8 percent of individuals who receive ventilation. They estimate the cost of a hospital stay for VAP at $40,000 as a result of the average hospital visit lasting five to seven days for the infection.

To prevent the expense and risk to your health, the medical field is making strides toward reducing the prevalence of this issue. This is especially the case since VAP can enhance the severity of the initial condition. For instance, it could prolong the time it takes for the patient to recovery. As noted by the National Institutes of Health, VAP is associated with an elevated rate of drug-resistant infections. It heightens the number of antibiotics used in patients. When hospitals place patients on extended doses of antibiotics, it can lead to resistance in the future. Additionally, prolonged antibiotic use may contribute to other infections like Clostridium difficile (C-diff.), which is an infection in the intestines.

Hospitals restrict the use of ventilators to patients who absolutely require them. It’s vital that the staff washes their hands prior to working with any patient and especially with patients who have a ventilator. Proper sterilization prevents ventilator-acquired pneumonia as well as various other infections. Each facility that provides breathing assistance has a series of stringent guidelines that the staff is expected to uphold. Patients, for example, need to have their mouths cleaned adequately to decrease the risk of infection. In most cases, patients on ventilators should have their heads elevated to an angle between 30 to 45 degrees. One study suggests this recommendation reduces the occurrences of VAP by 67 percent. Moreover, another study conducted on 86 patients on ventilators discovered that angling the patient’s head reduced cases of VAP to only five percent as opposed to 23 percent.

Studies have evaluated methods to reduce biofilm on the surface of the endotracheal tube. (ETT). Several methods were identified such as using an antiseptic like silver on the intraluminal surface of theETT. Although not a prevention technique, hospitals request staff monitor patients who recently were on a ventilator for signs of VAP. Early intervention promotes the optimal prognosis of the condition. Through careful monitoring, staff may intervene as soon as possible to start treatment.