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Media Release: Over 1,700 cases of a potentially deadly infection reported in public hospitals

Download the Media Release: Over 1,700 cases of a potentially deadly infection reported in public hospitals (PDF 147 KB)

Australia’s major public hospitals reported a disproportionate number (over 80%) of the 1,724 cases of potentially deadly healthcare-associated Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bloodstream infections in 2012–13.

A new report released today by the National Health Performance Authority, which covers both antibiotic-treatable and antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus, shows big differences in the rate of infections contracted by patients in hospital.

S. aureus, commonly known as ‘Golden Staph’, is a bacterium often found on the skin of healthy people and is relatively harmless unless it causes infection. Most cases can be treated by antibiotics. However, there are more serious antibiotic-resistant strains. Estimates suggest 20 to 35% of people who experience healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infections die from this or a related cause.

The report allocates hospitals into four peer groups to enable fair reporting comparisons (‘major hospitals’ with more vulnerable patients, ‘major hospitals’ with fewer vulnerable patients, ‘large hospitals’ with more vulnerable patients and ‘large hospitals’ with fewer vulnerable patients):

  • In ‘major hospitals’ with more ‘vulnerable’ patients (which include patients who undergo more invasive treatments and procedures) the rate of infection per 10,000 patient bed days was three times higher at some hospitals compared to others – 1.93 (65 reported cases) at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (Qld) compared to 0.53 (10 reported cases) at Prince Charles Hospital (Qld)
  • In ‘major hospitals’ with fewer ‘vulnerable’ patients the rate of infection per 10,000 patient bed days was 11 times higher at some hospitals compared to others – 2.29 (17 reported cases) at Port Macquarie Hospital (NSW) compared to just 0.20 (two reported cases) at Alice Springs Hospital (NT).

Performance Authority CEO Dr Diane Watson said there had been a decrease in the number of healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infections in some ‘major hospitals’ from 2011–12.

“It is important to remember that every case of healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infection is potentially preventable,” Dr Watson said.

“Through our reporting, hospitals can see how they compare with their peers and have a clear benchmark to measure progress over time.”

The government-agreed target calls for a rate of no more than 2.0 healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infections per 10,000 patient bed days for each state and territory. The vast majority of public hospitals in 2012–13 had rates less than 2.0.

Note to media

  1. ‘Highest and lowest’ S. aureus results at ‘major hospitals’ is located at Attachment A
  2. Download Hospital Performance: Healthcare-associated Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections in 2012–13 (PDF 2MB)
  3. Individual hospital results are available at www.myhospitals.gov.au.

Attachment A:

Highest and lowest healthcare-associated Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bloodstream infection results (highest and lowest five results by rate of infection) major hospitals peer groups


Major hospitals, more vulnerable patients*

Highest five rates of S. aureus bloodstream infection

StateHospitalCasesRate
QldRoyal Brisbane & Women's651.93
NSWNepean351.82
QldMater Adult101.81
NSWGosford311.77
VicMonash [Clayton]411.76

Major hospitals, fewer vulnerable patients*

Highest five rates of S. aureus bloodstream infection

StateHospitalCasesRate
NSWPort Macquarie172.29
NSWDubbo111.95
NSWSutherland181.56
QldGold Coast University261.50
TasLaunceston161.47
QldRockhampton121.47

Major hospitals, more vulnerable patients*

Lowest five rates of S. aureus bloodstream infection

StateHospitalCasesRate
NSWRoyal Prince Alfred260.93
TasRoyal Hobart130.85
WAFremantle180.82
SAQueen Elizabeth110.79
QldPrince Charles100.53

Major hospitals, fewer vulnerable patients*

Lowest five rates of S. aureus bloodstream infection

StateHospitalCasesRate
QldCaboolture30.39
NSWOrange40.39
QldRedcliffe40.39
VicSunshine60.38
ACTCalvary Public30.33
QldBundaberg20.28
NTAlice Springs20.20

* More and fewer vulnerable patients refers to hospitals deemed to have, for their peer group, a high or low percentage of patient bed days under surveillance attributable to patients with one or more of the identified risk factors. Risk factors were not weighted to account for differences in the degree to which each factor contributes to risk of S. aureus infection. For more information on measures and peer groups, see the Technical note www.myhospitals.gov.au


Note:
  • The government-agreed target calls for a rate of no more than 2.0 healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infections per 10,000 patient bed days for each state and territory.
Sources:
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Staphylococcus aureus Bacteraemia Data Collection 2012–13, data extracted 17 December 2013.
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Dataset 2011–12, data extracted 26 March 2012.

Find results for more than 700 hospitals

Information on healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infections at ‘major’ and ‘large’ peer grouped hospitals by state and territory is available in the Hospital Performance: Healthcare-associated Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections in 2012–13 (In Focus) report. Results for individual hospitals, including 132 private hospitals and 586 public hospitals, is available at www.myhospitals.gov.au


Media enquiries: 02 9186 9220
Jessica Sain 02 9186 9209 or 0413 389 458
Helen Barrett 02 9186 9224 or 0481 438 534

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Download the Media Release: Over 1,700 cases of a potentially deadly infection reported in public hospitals (PDF 147 KB)

Page currency, Latest update: 12 March, 2014