Pneumonia is the most common cause of death from infection in persons 60 years of age and older and is the fourth most common cause of death overall for persons 80 years of age and older. Furthermore, the annual cost of treating patients with pneumonia in the United States is approximately $9.7 billion, and most of this cost is incurred when patients (the majority of whom are older) are hospitalized. It has been estimated that 962 patients per 100,000 persons 65 years and older will require hospitalization for pneumonia annually; this figure is nearly four times the rate in the general population. The vulnerable older patient is at even greater risk for death and morbidity from pneumonia, and improving quality of care for this high-risk population may lead to substantial reductions in morbidity and mortality.
Originally published in: Annals of Internal Medicine, v.135, no. 8, pt. 2, October 16, 2001, pp. 736-743.
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