Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) National Point Prevalence Study

A/Professor Phil Russo1

1Monash University, Victoria


Healthcare associated infection (HAI) point prevalent surveys (PPS) are regularly undertaken in many European countries.  In Australia, only one HAI PPS 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.


A cross sectional 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.


Data was collected between August and December 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. 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. Presence of a multi-resistant organism (MRO) was documented for 10.3% of the patients.


This is the first HAI PPS to be conducted in Australia in 34 years. One in 10 patients had a HAI. The high prevalence of pneumonia and urinary tract infections identified means that many HAIs are occurring that are not detected by routine surveillance. Regular, large scale HAI PPS should be undertaken to generate national HAI data to inform and drive national interventions.

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