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About Us - Our Performance - IPAC - Ventilator-associated Pneumonia (VAP) - Overview



Mackenzie Health will post ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) information on our website as of April 30th, 2009. Like all Ontario hospitals with ICUs, we will report our quarterly rate and case count VAP acquired at our facility for each three-month period, beginning with January, February and March 2009. The information is also available on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website:


What is ventilator-associated pneumonia?
For our public reporting purposes, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is defined as a pneumonia (lung infection) occurring in patients in an intensive care unit (ICU), requiring external mechanical breathing support (a ventilator) through a breathing tube for more than 48 hours.


What happens when you get VAP?
Patients with VAP show symptoms of either a fever or lower body temperature. The mucous or phlegm that is brought up from their lungs is infected.


How is VAP treated?
Since VAP is caused by a bacterial infection in the lungs, it is treated using antibiotics. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a patient has developed a VAP, as they are already critically ill, and may have a pre-existing infection. Professional care teams in ICUs do their best to use leading practices to prevent a VAP from occurring. Now that Mackenzie Health is publicly reporting our VAP cases, we have an additional opportunity to measure and track our quality and patient safety improvements.


Why does VAP develop in ICU patients?
VAP can develop in patients for many reasons. Because patients are relying on an external machine (ventilator) to breath, their normal coughing, yawning, and deep breath reflexes are suppressed. Patients may also have a depressed immune system, making them more vulnerable to infection. ICU teams have many ways to try to assist patients with these normal breathing reflexes, but despite this, patients are still at risk for developing pneumonia.


Information for Patients and Visitors


VAP Fact Sheet for Patients and Visitors


How serious is VAP for hospital patients?
VAP is a serious lung infection that can occur in patients who need to be on a ventilator for at least 48 hours or more. The majority of patients in a hospital who require a ventilator are cared for in the ICU. Because patients in an ICU are already quite ill, they have increased risk for infection. If a patient develops VAP, they will have to stay longer in the ICU, and will be ventilated for longer periods of time. Overall, they will spend more time in the hospital.


Is VAP contagious? 
Since VAP is caused by bacteria in the lungs, and patients in the ICU are very ill to begin with, the bacteria could be contagious if preventative strategies are not implemented. To prevent the spread of pneumonia to other patients, health care providers practice proper hand hygiene techniques, and will discontinue mechanical ventilation as soon as possible when patients are ready to breathe on their own.


Can you only get VAP in an ICU?
VAP can occur in anyone who has been on a ventilator for more than 48 hours. Some people who have certain health problems are chronically ventilated (i.e., all the time). They may occur in settings other than a hospital, and these people/patients can develop VAP too. We are only collecting VAP rates in a hospital ICU, since patients are more likely to be ventilated in this location.


What can patients do to help reduce their chances of infection? 
Frequent hand cleaning is a good way to prevent the spread of infection. Hand hygiene involves everyone in the hospital, including patients.


What are healthcare-associated infections? 
Sometimes when patients are admitted to the hospital, they can get infections. These are called healthcare-associated infections.


More patient-specific information is available at and, and


If you have any questions about our hospital’s infection prevention and control program, please contact Mackenzie Health Infection Prevention and Control Department

Mackenzie Health / 10 Trench St. Richmond Hill, On. L4C 4Z3 / Richmond Hill Line: 905-883-1212 or Vaughan Line: 905-832-4554 / TTY Service: 905-883-2123