Clinical Presentation, Processes and Outcomes of Care for Patients with Pneumococcal Pneumonia


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Marrie: Department of Medicine, 2F1.30 Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Center, 8440 112 St., Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R7, Canada.


OBJECTIVE: To describe the presentation, resolution of symptoms, processes of care, and outcomes of pneumococcal pneumonia, and to compare features of the bacteremic and nonbacteremic forms of this illness.

DESIGN: A prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Five medical institutions in 3 geographic locations.

PARTICIPANTS: Inpatients and outpatients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).

MEASUREMENTS: Sociodemographic characteristics, respiratory and nonrespiratory symptoms, and physical examination findings were obtained from interviews or chart review. Severity of illness was assessed using a validated prediction rule for short-term mortality in CAP. Pneumococcal pneumonia was categorized as bacteremic; nonbacteremic, pure etiology; or nonbacteremic, mixed etiology.

MAIN RESULTS: One hundred fifty-eight (6.9%) of 2,287 patients (944 outpatients, 1,343 inpatients) with CAP had pneumococcal pneumonia. Sixty-five (41%) of the 158 with pneumococcal pneumonia were bacteremic; 74 (47%) were nonbacteremic with S. pneumoniae as sole pathogen; and 19 (12%) were nonbacteremic with S. pneumoniae as one of multiple pathogens. The pneumococcal bacteremia rate for outpatients was 2.6% and for inpatients it was 6.6%. Cough, dyspnea, and pleuritic pain were common respiratory symptoms. Hemopytsis occurred in 16% to 22% of the patients. A large number of nonrespiratory symptoms were noted. Bacteremic patients were less likely than nonbacteremic patients to have sputum production and myalgias (60% vs 82% and 33% vs 57%, respectively; P < .01 for both), more likely to have elevated blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine levels, and more likely to receive pencillin therapy. Half of bacteremic patients were in the low risk category for short-term mortality (groups I to III), similar to the nonbacteremic patients. None of the 32 bacteremic patients in risk groups I to III died, while 7 of 23 (30%) in risk group V died. Intensive care unit admissions and pneumonia-related mortality were similar between bacteremic and nonbacteremic groups, although 46% of the bacteremic group had respiratory failure compared with 32% and 37% for the other groups. The nonbacteremic pure etiology patients returned to household activities faster than bacteremic patients. Symptoms frequently persisted at 30 days: cough (50%); dyspnea (53%); sputum production (48%); pleuritic pain (13%); and fatigue (63%).

CONCLUSIONS: There were few differences in the presentation of bacteremic and nonbacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia. About half of bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia patients were at low risk for mortality. Symptom resolution frequently was slow.