Don’t let it HAPpen! Reducing the rate of Hospital Acquired Pneumonia in the ISLHD

Ms Sarah Jennings1, Ms Stacey Atkins1

1ISLHD, Shoalhaven, Australia

Hospital Acquired Pneumonia (HAP) is an infection in the lungs that occurs during a hospital stay. A Hospital Acquired Complication (HAC) data review during the 2019-2020 financial year revealed inpatients in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) have a higher rate of HAP than the NSW state average.

Aim: To reduce the incidence of HAP by 15% on three target wards in the ISLHD.

Method: A review of the literature identified nutrition, early mobility and oral health protocols as the highest contributing nursing and allied health factors to HAP; Oral health was chosen as the target area for this project.

Nursing focus groups investigating current processes in oral health on the wards identified staff knowledge, access to oral health resources and individual patient factors as the current barriers to delivering oral cares. A minimum standard of oral health resources was determined and resources were donated by Nowra Dental for the duration of the project.

Nowra Dental delivered tailored education sessions to staff on selected wards, targeting identifying poor oral health and delivering best practice oral care.

An oral health video resource and cost benefit analysis of resources are planned to sustain education and facilitate project roll-out across ISLHD.

Outcomes: Education survey results demonstrated a 33% increase in staff knowledge and confidence regarding oral health care.

Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT) assessments on target wards revealed 20.8% of patients maintained and 56.2% of patients improved their oral health across their admission. ISLHD HAP rates since project roll are not yet available at the time of writing

Future scope of the project will target nutrition and early mobility with the goal to reduce HAP risks using an interdisciplinary approach.


Sarah Jennings and Stacey Atkins are Speech Pathologists within the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District working with adults within the acute inpatient population.

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