Burden of five healthcare associated infections in Australia

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Background: Healthcare associated infections are of significant burden in Australia and globally. Previous estimates in Australia have relied on single-site studies, or combinations thereof, which have suggested the burden of these infections is high in Australia. Here, we estimate the burden of five healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in Australian public hospitals using a standard international framework, and compare these estimates to those observed in Europe. Methods: We used data from an Australian point prevalence survey to estimate the burden of HAIs amongst adults in Australian public hospitals using an incidence-based approach, introduced by the ECDC Burden of Communicable Diseases in Europe. Results: We estimate that 170,574 HAIs occur in adults admitted to public hospitals in Australia annually, resulting in 7583 deaths. Hospital acquired pneumonia is the most frequent HAI, followed by surgical site infections, and urinary tract infections. We find that blood stream infections contribute a small percentage of HAIs, but contribute the highest number of deaths (3207), more than twice that of the second largest, while pneumonia has the higher impact on years lived with disability. Conclusion: This study is the first time the national burden of HAIs has been estimated for Australia from point prevalence data collected using validated surveillance definitions. Per-capita, estimates are similar to that observed in Europe, but with significantly higher occurrences of bloodstream infections and healthcare-associated pneumonia, primarily amongst women. Overall, the estimated burden is high and highlights the need for continued investment in HAI prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Epidemiology
  • Healthcare associated infections
  • Infection control
  • Nosocomial infection

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