(HealthDay News) — The first prescription of an antibiotic that the average US adult with pneumonia receives is now ineffective in about a quarter of cases, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 19 to 24 in Washington, DC.

James McKinnell, MD, an infectious disease specialist at LA BioMed, a California-based research foundation, and colleagues tracked data for 251,947 adults who were prescribed antibiotics to treat community-acquired pneumonia.

The researchers found that 22.1% of the patients did not respond to their initial prescription of antibiotic treatment. Patients over the age of 65 were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized compared to younger patients, after adjusting for other risk factors.

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“Our findings suggest that the community-acquired pneumonia treatment guidelines should be updated,” McKinnell said in a news release from the American Thoracic Society. Any update should include data on what risk factors leave patients vulnerable to antibiotic failure, he added. “Elderly patients are more vulnerable and should be treated more carefully, potentially with more aggressive antibiotic therapy.”


  1. Antibiotic therapy for nearly one in four adults with pneumonia does not work [press release]. American Thoracic Society. Published May 21, 2017. Accessed May 24, 2017.