BTS 2011 guideline on community acquired pneumonia in children

In October 2011 the British Thoracic Society updated its guidelines on community acquired pneumonia in children.  Dr Michael Eyres looked at it in more detail for Paediatric Pearls.  He was also part of our local audit team contributing to the national audit.  The results showed that we, despite insisting on as few investigations as possible, are still doing too many chest x-rays, blood cultures and CRP measurements.  Think – will it change management?

Here are the basics:

When to consider pneumonia

Persistent fever > 38.5°C     +     chest recessions    + tachypnoea


• CXR should not be considered routine and is not required in children who do not need admission.

• Acute phase reactants including CRP are not useful in distinguishing viral from bacterial infection and should not
be tested routinely. Blood cultures also do not need to be routinely taken.

• Daily U&Es are required in children receiving IV fluids.


Severity assessment

• Children with oxygen saturations <92% need hospital referral.

• Auscultation findings of absent breath sounds with dullness to percussion need hospital referral.

• Children should be reassessed if symptoms persist.


General management

• Give parents information on managing fever, preventing dehydration and identifying deterioration.

• Children with oxygen saturations <92% need oxygen.

• NG tubes should be avoided in severe respiratory compromise and in infants.

• Chest physio is not beneficial and should not be performed in pneumonia.



• All children with a clear clinical diagnosis of pneumonia should receive antibiotics as bacterial and viral
infections cannot be reliably distinguished. However most children younger than 2 years presenting with mild symptoms of respiratory distress (this would
include the bronchiolitics) do not usually require antibiotics.

• Amoxicillin is the oral first-line for all children as it is effective, well tolerated and cheap.

• Macrolides if no response to first-line / suspected mycoplasma or chlamydia / very severe disease.

• Augmentin if pneumonia associated with influenza.

• Oral agents are effective even in severe pneumonia; IV is needed only if unable to tolerate oral or there are
signs of septicaemia, empyema or abscess.



• Children with severe pneumonia or complications should be followed up after discharge until they have recovered completely and
CXR is near normal. Follow-up CXR is not otherwise required, but may be considered in round pneumonia, collapse or if symptoms persist.



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