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What are Pneumonia Core Measures and why do Nurses Need to Know?

Higher Education Articles October 30, 2013

The term “pneumonia core measures” refers to a treatment protocol used to treat patients who are diagnosed with pneumonia. Healthcare industry experts prescribe this particular protocol because it has been shown to improve patient outcomes, so it is important for all nurses to learn about each aspect of the core measures and implement them when dealing with pneumonia patients. Each component of the pneumonia core measures is described below.

Blood Cultures before Treatment

Under the pneumonia core measures, healthcare professionals should obtain blood cultures before administering an antibiotic to a patient with pneumonia. These cultures should be taken before the patient arrives or within 24 hours after admission to the hospital. The purpose of this measure is to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection, thus allowing for more effective treatment.

Antibiotic Administration

The core measures indicate that a patient with pneumonia should receive antibiotics within 6 hours of admission to the hospital whenever possible, unless the patient is allergic or sensitive to the antibiotics used to treat pneumonia or is waiting for the results of a blood culture. If a patient does receive antibiotic treatment, nurses must document the dosage and time of administration.


Patients should be vaccinated for pneumonia if possible after being admitted to the hospital, unless there is documentation of the patient’s refusal to accept the vaccine, or proof that the patient had received the vaccine in the past or documentation of a sensitivity or allergy to the pneumonia vaccine. Patients are also exempt from this requirement if their medical history shows a contraindication, such as radiation therapy or a bone marrow transplant within the last year.

If a patient is admitted during influenza season, which runs from October to February, he or she should also receive a flu vaccine if possible. As with the pneumonia vaccine, patients are exempt from this requirement. If they have already received the vaccine in the current season, refuse the vaccine or have a contraindication, such as a compromised immune system or a documented allergy to the vaccine.

Counseling for Smokers

Patients admitted to the hospital of pneumonia may experience complications because of a history of smoking. Patients who admit to smoking at the time of admission should be offered cessation counseling before leaving the hospital.

Although all members of the healthcare team are responsible for abiding by the pneumonia core measures when treating patients who have received a pneumonia diagnosis, nurses are often responsible for documenting a patient’s treatment history. For this reason, it is essential that nurses understand the pneumonia core measures so that they can maintain accurate records. Nurses who are involved in creating patient treatment plans can also use their knowledge of the core measures to improve outcomes and ensure that all patients receive the highest standard of care.

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