The incidence of nosocomial bloodstream infection and urinary tract infection in Australian hospitals before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: an interrupted time series study

Brett G. Mitchell, Andrew J. Stewardson, Lucille Kerr, John K. Ferguson, Stephanie Curtis, Ljoudmila Busija, Michael J. Lydeamore, Kirsty Graham, Philip L. Russo (Leading Author)

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3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on healthcare including increased awareness of infection prevention and control (IPC). The aim of this study was to explore if the heightened awareness of IPC measures implemented in response to the pandemic influenced the rates of healthcare associated infections (HAI) using positive bloodstream and urine cultures as a proxy measure. METHODS: A 3 year retrospective review of laboratory data from 5 hospitals (4 acute public, 1 private) from two states in Australia was undertaken. Monthly positive bloodstream culture data and urinary culture data were collected from January 2017 to March 2021. Occupied bed days (OBDs) were used to generate monthly HAI incidence per 10,000 OBDs. An interrupted time series analysis was undertaken to compare incidence pre and post February 2020 (the pre COVID-19 cohort and the COVID-19 cohort respectively). A HAI was assumed if positive cultures were obtained 48 h after admission and met other criteria. RESULTS: A total of 1,988 bloodstream and 7,697 urine positive cultures were identified. The unadjusted incident rate was 25.5 /10,000 OBDs in the pre-COVID-19 cohort, and 25.1/10,000 OBDs in the COVID-19 cohort. The overall rate of HAI aggregated for all sites did not differ significantly between the two periods. The two hospitals in one state which experienced an earlier and larger outbreak demonstrated a significant downward trend in the COVID-19 cohort (p = 0.011). CONCLUSION: These mixed findings reflect the uncertainty of the effect the pandemic has had on HAI's. Factors to consider in this analysis include local epidemiology, differences between public and private sector facilities, changes in patient populations and profiles between hospitals, and timing of enhanced IPC interventions. Future studies which factor in these differences may provide further insight on the effect of COVID-19 on HAIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61
Number of pages9
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2023


  • Blood cultures
  • COVID-19
  • Healthcare associated infection
  • Infection prevention
  • Surveillance
  • Urine cultures

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