[Skip to content]


Technical patient safety solutions for ventilator-associated pneumonia in adults

Reference number
Issue date01 August 2008

This guidance is issued jointly by the National Reporting and Learning Service and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). It recommends actions to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in intubated patients who are being mechanically ventilated.

Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lungs caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infection. VAP can occur as a complication of mechanical ventilation, particularly over a prolonged period of time and in patients who are critically ill. It can be caused by a range of microorganisms, normally found in the throat and the gut. Mechanical ventilation allows them to move to the lungs, despite the best standards of ventilator use.

VAP is recognised as a significant problem in the USA, where data suggest that it represents 31% of all intensive care unit (ICU)-acquired infections, and that it occurs in 9–27% of all intubated patients. There are no data on the incidence of VAP in the UK.

Healthcare professionals should:

  • Ensure these patients are semi-recumbent or seated for as much of the time as possible. This will not be appropriate for all patients (for example, those with spinal injuries).
  • Ensure an oral antiseptic is included as part of the mouth care routine for these patients.

This guidance is available to download from the NICE website.