One lung from 109 unselected hospital and 43 unselected non-hospital necropsies was studied using postmortem radiography with histological verification. Signs of acute bacterial infection, including bronchiolitis or bronchopneumonia, were present in 42.2% of the hospital necropsies and infection was the immediate cause of death in 8.3%. There was only one case of incipient bronchopneumonia among the non-hospital necropsies. Emphysema was the most common other pulmonary lesion in both groups. Gram negative bacteria were found significantly more often in the bronchial mucus of lungs with any pulmonary lesion, particularly those with signs of bacterial infection, than in the bronchial mucus of morphologically normal lungs in both groups of patients. In addition, the frequency of infections was associated with length of stay in hospital. This may reflect the prevalence of Gram negative infections in hospitals.
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