Nosocomial pneumonia is one of the three major kinds of hospital-acquired infection (the others are urinary tract and surgical bound infections), and accounts for approximately 10 to 15 per cent of all infections in this setting. Its incidence has been estimated to be between five and ten cases per 1000 hospital admissions. However, the incidence among ventilated patients is much greater, and can present a risk as much as 20 times higher. In fact, pneumonia is the leading cause of nosocomial infection in this setting, with reported rates as high as 25 to 70 per cent. Although nosocomial pneumonia is less frequent in non-ventilated patients, it accounts for approximately one-third of total cases.

Nosocomial pneumonia is a severe complication and has the highest mortality of all hospital-acquired infections. This is particularly evident in ventilated patients, who present an attributable mortality of between a third and a half of all registered cases. Also, the economic cost of hospital-acquired pneumonia is high in terms of both treatment expense and increased duration of hospital stay.

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