National hospital survey to audit infection

Improving Health and Wellbeing

Deakin researchers will lead the first infection survey of Australian hospitals in more than 30 years.

A project led by Dr Philip Russo, a Research Fellow with Deakin University’s Centre for Quality and Patient Safety-Alfred Health Partnership, will address the current lack of data on infection risk across Australia’s hospitals and help researchers to understand the national burden of healthcare associated infections.

Dr Russo will be supported by Professor Brett Mitchell from Avondale College of Higher Education, Professor Allen Cheng and Dr Andrew Stewardson from Monash University, and Professor Tracey Bucknall, from Deakin’s Centre for Quality and Patient Safety-Alfred Health Partnership.

The National Healthcare Associated Infection Point Prevalence Survey will count how many patients in a sample of Australian hospitals have an infection on one day.

Dr Russo said the survey was essential to evaluate the level of infection risk across Australia’s hospitals, as well as preventing the spread of superbugs.

“This work is critical as infections can result in ongoing health complications for patients and, in the worst cases, death,” he said.

“Patients in Australian hospitals are now sicker than they’ve ever been, so they’re more vulnerable to infection.”
Dr Philip Russo
Dr Philip Russo Centre for Quality and Patient Safety-Alfred Health Partnership

“There’s currently a lack of data on what’s happening nationally, and we need to understand the national burden of healthcare associated infections, then use this information to develop national infection prevention initiatives.”

Professor Mitchell said Australia was one of the only OECD countries not to undertake such surveys. “They are critical in setting national agendas and priorities,” he said.

The last time a similar survey was carried out was in 1984, but in many comparable countries, they are carried out every few years.

Current European studies showed infection rates of between three and eight per cent, Dr Russo said.

He explained the research had been made possible thanks to a donation from a charitable organisation.

“We will also be gathering data on the prevalence and type of bugs in hospitals, as well as how many patients have resistant strains, or so called superbugs.

“There is a lot of media attention on the use of antibiotics and the burden of multi-resistant organisms in Australia, but we don’t actually know how prevalent these superbugs are in our hospital system as a whole,” he said.

The three-year project will begin in September with the recruitment of participating hospitals for the survey to be undertaken in 2018. For more information, visit www.ipcca.com.au/pps.

Published by Deakin Research on 28 July 2017.

Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research

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