The prevalence of healthcare associated infections among adult inpatients at nineteen large Australian acute-care public hospitals: A point prevalence survey

Philip L. Russo, Andrew J. Stewardson, Allen C. Cheng, Tracey Bucknall, Brett G. Mitchell

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Background: Australia does not have a national healthcare associated infection (HAI) surveillance program. Only one HAI point prevalence study has been undertaken in 1984. The objective of this study was to estimate the burden of healthcare associated infection (HAI) in acute adult inpatients in Australia. Methods: A cross sectional point prevalence study (PPS) was conducted in a sample of large acute care hospitals. All data were collected by two trained Research Assistants. Surveillance methodology was based on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) PPS Protocol with variation in the sampling method in that only acute inpatients ≥ 18 years old were included. ECDC HAI definitions were applied. Results: Data was collected between August and November 2018. A total of 2767 patients from 19 hospitals were included in the study. The median age of patients was 67, and 52.9% of the sample were male. Presence of a multi-drug resistant organism was documented for 10.3% of the patients. There were 363 HAIs present in 273 patients. The prevalence of patients with a HAI was 9.9% (95%CI: 8.8-11.0). Hospital prevalence rates ranged from 5.7% (95%CI:2.9-11.0) to 17.0% (95%CI:10.7-26.1). The most common HAIs were surgical site infection, pneumonia and urinary tract infection, comprising 64% of all HAIs identified. Conclusion: This is the first HAI PPS to be conducted in Australia in 34 years. The prevalence rate is higher than the previous Australian study and that reported by the ECDC, however differences in methodology limit comparison. Regular, large scale HAI PPS should be undertaken to generate national HAI data to inform and drive national interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
Number of pages8
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


  • Healthcare associated infection
  • Infection prevention
  • Point prevalence study
  • Surveillance

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