Fully Automated Healthcare-acquired Infection Surveillance: Where in the World Are We?

Ms Michelle Taylor1

1Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand


Introduction: Surveillance of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) is one of the cornerstones of an effective infection prevention and control (IPC) programme.  Over time, mandatory requirements have increased.  However, manual surveillance is labour-intensive, and thus most institutions are restricted in the amount and scope of surveillance that they perform.  Furthermore, many of the HAI definitions contain subjective components that require interpretation.

Methods: A means of overcoming these issues is to move to automating HAI surveillance using electronic surveillance systems (ESS).  However, most ESS currently in use are semi-automated systems that still require some user interpretation to determine if the HAI definition has been met.

Results: This presentation will discuss current progress towards full automation of international HAI definitions.  It will examine the limitations of currently published objective definitions and look at the challenges in developing and utilising wholly automated surveillance systems.

Conclusion: As more healthcare facilities invest in ESS, they must demonstrate a return on the investment. One means of doing this is to perform all-of-hospital, continuous surveillance for HAI.  However, to do this successfully, will require definitions amenable to electronically collected, objective data. Only then will reporting on HAI be completely objective and published rate between institutions truly comparable.


Michelle Taylor is the Clinical Nurse Specialist Infection Prevention and Control (ICNet Portfolio) for the Canterbury District Health Board. As the CNS (ICNet Portfolio) she facilitates and promotes the use of the ICNet™ Electronic Surveillance System to enhance infection prevention and control data collection, surveillance and patient case management.  She is a Registered Nurse who has completed a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing) and has worked as a in the United States of America, Australia & New Zealand, latterly in Infection Prevention and Control.  Michelle is also a member of the national New Zealand Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Surgical Site Infection Improvement programme team, providing advice and support to District Health Board users nationally.

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