Everything You Need to Know About Postoperative Pneumonia

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDDecember 28th, 2020
postoperative patient

If you’ve been scheduled to undergo surgery, you probably want to know everything you can about the procedure, including what you can do to minimize the risk of any potential complications. One of these complications is the development of postoperative pneumonia. In fact, postoperative pneumonia is the third most common complication for all surgical procedures. To help you prepare for your upcoming procedure, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about this condition.

What Is Postoperative Pneumonia?

As its name suggests, postoperative pneumonia refers to the type of pneumonia that a patient can contract following surgery. This term can be used to describe both hospital-acquired pneumonia (which develops within 48 to 72 hours after hospital admission) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (which develops 48 to 72 hours after endotracheal intubation).


What Are the Symptoms of Postoperative Pneumonia?

In many cases, postoperative pneumonia can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. However, because patients are sometimes intubated or unconscious following surgery, it can be difficult to recognize these symptoms. Other things to watch out for include fever, chills, rigor, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, impaired cognition, and an overall feeling of being unwell.

Why Do Patients Develop Postoperative Pneumonia?

The various circumstances surrounding surgery tend to make patients more likely to develop pneumonia. For example, many people who undergo surgery are doing so because they’re sick, and because their immune systems are already compromised due to this illness, they’re more prone to developing an infection. Patients may also be exposed to certain germs in the hospital for the first time, so they haven’t built up any immunity to them. Plus, although it’s necessary for many patients to rest following surgery, being unable to move around can prevent these individuals from fully ventilating their lungs, which can cause fluid secretions to accumulate and later become infected.

What Are the Risk Factors for Postoperative Pneumonia?

There are a number of risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop postoperative pneumonia, including:

Additionally, patients who are undergoing abdominal or thoracic surgery have a greater chance of developing postoperative pneumonia.

The Team to Choose for In-Home Treatment

If you’ve returned home from surgery and you’re concerned that you might have developed postoperative pneumonia, you can turn to DispatchHealth for treatment. We’re a trusted mobile healthcare provider, and we proudly offer in-home care for pneumonia and a wide array of other conditions affecting seniors and the rest of the population. Receiving treatment in the comfort of your own home minimizes your risk of exposure to germs and eliminates the stress of having to travel to a provider’s office when you’re already not feeling well. In addition to being convenient, our services are also affordable, with many patients paying approximately the same amount that they would at an urgent care clinic. And to ensure that your doctors remain updated on your condition, we can provide them with a detailed report of our services.


Requesting a visit from DispatchHealth is easy—you can do it by simply calling us, downloading our mobile app, or visiting our website. Our skilled team will arrive at your home in a few hours, perform an examination, provide you with a diagnosis, and administer any necessary treatments. In many cases, treatment for postoperative pneumonia involves taking antibiotics, which we can prescribe to you.

Contact us today if you have any questions.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000146.htm
  2. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary-disorders/pneumonia/hospital-acquired-pneumonia
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412519/
  4. https://teachmesurgery.com/perioperative/cardiorespiratory/pneumonia/
The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

Related Content

DispatchHealth’s APP Fellowship Program Receives Accreditation

DispatchHealth Earns Accreditation with Distinction for Advanced Practice Provider Transition to Practice Fellowship

In sickness & in health

Couple’s Embrace of Home-Centered Healing