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Community-Acquired Pneumonia: From Common Pathogens To Emerging Resistance

December 2005

Abstract

Little more than a hundred years ago, pneumonia was known as “the old man’s friend.” In an era with no shortage of slow and painful ways to die, pneumonia was considered an “acute, short, not often painful illness” that usually resulted in a quick death for the afflicted elderly patient.1 The man who coined this euphemistic description, William Osler, further commented that “a study of the history of the treatment of pneumonia makes one almost despair of the future of therapeutics.” In the preantibiotic age, there was little useful therapy to offer the pneumonia patient. Mortality was high — 30% in a typical city hospital.2 The introduction of antibiotics quickly reduced pneumonia-associated mortality, and now the majority of patients are cured with few sequelae. Yet despite the progress, pneumonia remains a top killer and a leading cause of ED visits and hospitalization.3,4
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