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Researchers from University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences have played a key role in developing rapid guidance on managing suspected or confirmed pneumonia in adults in the community.

Graphic of a pair of lungs against a red/black background

Researchers from the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences have played a key role in developing rapid guidance on managing suspected or confirmed pneumonia in adults in the community.

The work, from Annette Pluddemann, Richard Hobbs, Kamal R. Mahtani, Trisha Greenhalgh and Carl Heneghan, has been used to support one of four new guidelines recently published by the National Institute for Health and Care excellence (NICE).

The research was published through the Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service, which provides rapid reviews of research evidence in response to questions from front line clinicians.

The guideline focuses on managing suspected or confirmed pneumonia – inflammation of the lungs – in adults in the community and is designed to maximise the safety of patients while enabling the best use of NHS resources.

Pneumonia is a symptom of more serious COVID-19 infections. As the virus continues to spread across the country cases of pneumonia in the community are increasingly likely to be caused by the virus, rather than bacteria.

Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses such as COVID-19, and can even be harmful to patients, so it is important that they should only be offered by clinicians where it makes sense.

As such, the new guidance for clinicians is needed to help them make the best, evidence-based judgements about what treatment paths should be taken for patients with pneumonia or pneumonia-like symptoms.

As well as advice on antibiotic treatment, the guideline also includes information to help clinicians communicate with patients, diagnose and assess pneumonia, and to make informed decisions about when and which patients to admit to hospital.

The guideline also advises that ‘people should seek medical help without delay if their symptoms don’t improve or worsen rapidly, whether they have been given an antibiotic or not.’

The new guidelines are available on the NICE website here.

View the Oxford COVID-19 evidence service here