Pneumonia isn't always the killer it's been made out to be... but some of the treatments sure are.
A new study finds that intensive-care patients fighting drug-resistant strains of the condition are more likely to die when their doctors follow established guidelines.
It's hard to think of a bigger condemnation of mainstream medicine than that.
Researchers at the Miami Miller School of Medicine studied 303 patients from four medical centers who were at risk for multiple drug-resistant pneumonia infections.
They found 129 were treated based on the current guidelines set by the American Thoracic Society and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which call for a regimen of three antibiotics.
This isn't based on evidence, but theory--a theory that if you give someone enough meds, one of them should work.
Well, the other 174 patients who received different--probably more individualized--care would beg to differ: The researchers found that 79 percent of them survived, versus just 65 percent of those who were given the every-med- in-the-book approach, according to the study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
And that means it's time to take the guidelines and tear them up--because the mainstream needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to pneumonia.
A good starting point might be a few conversations with those doctors offering more individualized care--because clearly, they're doing things a little better.
And like any other illness, the best approach to pneumonia is to avoid getting it in the first place... especially for our friends and loved ones who have been hospitalized or live in care facilities, where the risks of acquiring a drug-resistant infection are much greater.
If that's you or someone you care about, try zinc.
In a recent study, researchers found that nursing-home patients with normal levels of the mineral had a lower risk of coming down with pneumonia--and shorter battles when they did get the condition.
They also needed fewer meds for shorter periods of time.
Maybe the new guidelines should start with the letter "Z."