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Inaugural point prevalence survey provides useful insights into healthcare-associated infections in public hospitals...

Infection prevention and control
04 May 2022

The Health Quality & Safety Commission has today released the findings of the first national point prevalence survey (PPS) of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in Aotearoa New Zealand which will help identify quality improvement opportunities to reduce the risk of HAIs occurring and achieve better health outcomes for patients. 

The survey was conducted between February and June 2021 involving nearly 6000 patients in 310 wards across 31 hospitals from all 20 district health boards (DHBs) in Aotearoa New Zealand. The national point prevalence of HAIs was 6.6 percent and the HAI rate was 7.7 infections per 100 patients.  

Dr Sally Roberts, the infection prevention and control national clinical lead for the Commission says the national rate is similar to rates reported in other countries and regions including Wales, Switzerland and the European Union.  

The survey found HAIs were more common in patients in intensive care and surgical patients than in medical patients and that four HAI types made up 74 percent (rounded) of all infections. These were surgical site infections (25 percent), urinary tract infections (19 percent), pneumonia (18 percent) and bloodstream infections (13 percent). 

‘The objective of this survey was to estimate the burden (prevalence) of HAI among adult patients in public hospitals, to look at risk factors for HAIs such as the use of invasive medical devices, share the results to raise awareness of HAIs, identify where infection prevention interventions are required to reduce these largely preventable events, and guide policies for future action. 

Dr Roberts says, ‘HAIs can negatively impact on the physical and mental health of patients and their whānau and can extend the length of a patient’s stay in hospital or result in being re-admitted to hospital or require multiple follow-up appointments. 

All these experiences can result in significant disability, as well as social, financial and emotional distress for the patient and their whānau. This survey has helped us better understand the impact of HAIs on adult patients and will help identify areas for quality improvement.’ 

The Commission will now work with the health sector to seek feedback on proposed surveillance or improvement projects that it develops based on the findings of the survey. 

‘The findings will particularly help planning to reduce HAIs across three focus areas, including preventing Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus) bloodstream infections associated with intravascular catheters, reducing surgical site infections due to S.aureus and reducing all infections associated with the use of medical devices’, says Dr Roberts. 

Read the full report here.