The EM Educator Series: The Bad Combination of Aspiration Pneumonia and ARDS

Author: Alex Koyfman, MD (@EMHighAK) // Edited by: Brit Long, MD (@long_brit) and Manpreet Singh, MD (@MprizzleER)

Welcome to this week’s EM Educator Series. These posts provide brief mini-cases followed by key questions to consider while working. The featured questions provide important learning points for those working with you, as well as vital items to consider in the evaluation and management of the specific condition discussed.

This week has another downloadable PDF document with questions, links and answers you can share with learners as educators in #MedEd. Please message us over Twitter and let us know if you have any feedback on ways to improve this for you. Enjoy!


#1: A 46-year-old male with diagnosed septic shock requiring intubation is requiring more oxygen. Chest x-ray demonstrates diffuse infiltrates.

#2: A 79-year-old female is brought from the nursing home for fever and coughing. The staff are concerned she may have aspirated some food. Her current temperature is 38.4 C.



  • What’s the difference between aspiration pneumonitis and pneumonia?
  • When should you consider aspiration pneumonia? How about ARDS
  • What are risk factors for aspiration pneumonia? ARDS?
  • What are the bugs associated with aspiration pneumonia? What antibiotics are recommended?
  • Do you treat aspiration pneumonitis?
  • Why do patients decompensate in ARDS? What are ventilator considerations in critically ill patients regarding ARDSnet?
  • How is ARDS diagnosed? What about management?


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