SAB rates remain below national benchmark

Rates of public hospital-associated Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) remained below the national benchmark in 2011-12, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2011-12: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in Australian public hospitals, presents national information on cases of SAB associated with care provided by public hospitals for 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.

SAB is a serious bloodstream infection associated with hospital care-in particular, surgical and other invasive procedures. It is sometimes resistant to treatment with antibiotics.

'In December 2008, Australian Health Ministers endorsed the reporting of SAB to form a national data collection,' said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

In addition, rates of SAB, including cases caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, were announced in 2008 as one of the performance indicators to be reported by jurisdictions under the National Healthcare Agreement.

'Our report shows that the national rate in 2011-12 was 0.9 cases per 10,000 days of patient care, below the benchmark of 2 cases per 10,000 days.'

It was also below the rate for 2010-11 of 1.1 cases for every 10,000 days of patient care.

In 2011-12, the rates ranged from 0.7 per 10,000 patient days in Western Australia to 1.3 in the Northern Territory.

There were 1,734 cases of SAB reported for Australian public hospitals.

'In 76% of these cases, the infections were methicillin sensitive, meaning they could be treated with common antibiotics,' Ms Hargreaves said.

The reported SAB cases occurred during 18.5 million days of patient care under SAB surveillance during 2011-12. The number of days under surveillance increased from 16.9 million in 2010-11, indicating increased coverage of state and territory SAB surveillance arrangements. 

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, 18 January 2013

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