Drop in rate of SAB cases in public hospitals

The national rate of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) cases in public hospitals dropped between 2010-11 and 2012-13, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

SAB, popularly known as 'golden staph', is a serious bloodstream infection associated with hospital care-in particular, surgical and other invasive procedures.

In December 2008, Australian Health Ministers endorsed the reporting of SAB to form a national data collection.

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2012-13: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in Australian public hospitals, shows the national rate of SAB dropped from 1.1 to 0.9 cases per 10,000 patient days between 2010-11 and 2012-13

'Rates dropped in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, rose in the Australian Capital Territory, and fluctuated or remained about the same in the other states,' said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

In 2012-13, all states and territories had rates of SAB below the national benchmark of 2 cases per 10,000 patient days.

'However, some variation is seen between the states and territories,' Ms Hargreaves said.

Rates of SAB ranged from 0.7 per 10,000 patient days in the Northern Territory, to 1.3 per 10,000 patient days in the Australian Capital Territory.

'There were 1,724 cases of SAB reported in Australian public hospitals, of which 77% were methicillin sensitive-meaning they were treatable with commonly used antibiotics,' Ms Hargreaves said.

The number of cases of SAB that weren't treatable with commonly used antibiotics has dropped in the past three years.

The reported SAB cases occurred during 18.8 million days of patient care under SAB surveillance in 2012-13.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 20 December 2013

Further information: Jenny Hargreaves, AIHW,tel. (02) 6244 1121, mob. 0407 012 520