Deakin to undertake national hospital infection audit

Media release
24 July 2017

Deakin University researchers are set to conduct the first infection survey of Australian hospitals in more than 30 years.

The project will be led by lead Dr Philip Russo, a Research Fellow in the Centre for Quality and Patient Safety-Alfred Health Partnership within Deakin's School of Nursing and Midwifery.

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.

Dr Russo said the survey was critical in evaluating the level of infection risk across Australia's hospitals, as well as preventing the spread of superbugs.

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

"This work is critical as infections can result in ongoing health complications for patients and in the worst cases death," Dr Russo said.

"Patients in Australian hospitals are now sicker than they've ever been, so they're more vulnerable to infection.

"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.

Dr Russo said current European studies showed an infection rates of between 3 and 8 per cent.

"Thanks to a donation from a charitable organisation, we are now able to carry out this important work," he said.

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

"There's 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."

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

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