What is the role of diagnostic testing in suspected bacterial pneumonia?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Diagnostic testing in patients with suspected pneumonia is driven mostly by the possibility that the results would significantly alter empiric therapy and management decisions and whether the test is likely to have a high yield. [3, 53] Diagnostic testing is also useful in classifying the severity of illness and site-of-care decisions (outpatient vs inpatient vs intensive care unit [ICU]). The most obvious indication for extensive diagnostic testing is in the critically ill patient. [3, 54]

Various tools to assess the severity of disease and risk of death exist and are in wide use, including the PSI/PORT (ie, pneumonia severity index/Patient Outcomes Research Team score), the CURB-65 system (ie, confusion, urea, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and age >65 y), and the APACHE (ie, acute physiology and chronic health evaluation), among others discussed under Risk Stratification in the Clinical Presentation section. A number of laboratory values are commonly used in the calculation of these risk indices.

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