For the most up to date information on COVID-19 please visit the Department of Health Website.
Learn more about how the AIHW is assisting the COVID-19 response and our broader work on communicable diseases.
For contact details and services, visit:
Last updated 20/02/2020 v24.0
Staphylococcus aureus (also S. aureus, or ‘Golden staph’) is a type of bacteria that can cause Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB), an infection of the bloodstream.
SAB can be acquired after a patient receives medical care or treatment in a hospital. Contracting a Staph. aureus bloodstream infection while in hospital can be life threatening and hospitals aim to have as few cases as possible.
This measure is sourced from the National Staphylococcus aureus Bacteraemia Data Collection (NSABDC). Data for public hospitals are provided by state and territory health authorities, while data for participating private hospitals are provided on a voluntary basis by individual private hospitals and private sector hospital groups.
The current nationally agreed benchmark set under the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) is no more than 2.0 cases of healthcare-associated Staph. aureus bloodstream infections per 10,000 days of patient care for public hospitals in each state and territory.
In the data visualisation below you can explore information on healthcare associated infections by hospital between 2010–11 and 2018–19.
Changes over time
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19:
Private hospitals participate in the NSABDC on a voluntary basis. The casemix of patients treated in private hospitals may also be different to that in public hospitals, therefore direct comparisons are unreliable. Not all private hospitals report data and reported data may not be representative of the sector as a whole.
NSABDC Data Quality Statement
National Healthcare Agreement: PI 22-Healthcare associated infections: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia
Appendixes and caveat information is available on the About the data page.
Definitions of the terms used in this section are available in the Glossary.
Data for public hospitals are provided by state and territory health authorities. Data for private hospitals are voluntarily provided by individual private hospitals and private sector hospital groups. The nationally agreed benchmark set under the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) is no more than 2.0 cases of healthcare-associated S. aureus per 10,000 days of patient care for public hospitals in each state and territory.
The SAB infection rate is calculated as the number of healthcare-associated cases of S. aureus divided by the total number of patient days under surveillance (x 10,000).
Rates based on less than 5,000 patient days under surveillance are denoted as NP.
If the surveillance rate (patient days under surveillance/total number of patient days) is less than 95%, the rate is reported as interpret with caution (using the symbol *), as the sample under surveillance may not be representative of the hospital.
A case (patient-episode) of SAB infection is defined as a positive blood culture for S. aureus. For surveillance purposes, only the first isolate per patient is counted, unless at least 14 days has passed without a positive blood culture, after which an additional episode is recorded.
A SAB infection is considered to be healthcare-associated if the first positive blood culture is collected more than 48 hours after hospital admission or less than 48 hours after discharge, or if the first positive blood culture is collected 48 hours or less after admission and one or more of the following clinical criteria was met for the case of S. aureus:
The definition of healthcare-associated S. aureus was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission). The Commission changed the definition in 2016, with clarification of the neutropenia criterion above. This definition of a healthcare-associated case of S. aureus was used by all states and territories for the 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18 and 2018–19 reporting years.
Data for 2010–11 to 2014–15 are provided according to the previous neutropenia criterion available at: http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/item id/598734.
Patient days under surveillance is the total number of days of admitted patient care under surveillance by infection control surveillance systems within the hospital.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when some of the bacteria that cause infections resist the effects of the medicines used to treat them. This may lead to ‘treatment failure’, or the inability to treat the cause of the infection (Department of Health, 2020). Methicillin is an antimicrobial used to treat SAB infections.
A SAB infection that is identified by a laboratory as being caused by a methicillin-resistant strain of S. aureus is referred to as MRSA. A SAB case that is identified by a laboratory as being caused by a S. aureus strain that is sensitive to commonly used antimicrobials (methicillin-sensitive) is referred to as MSSA.
SAB infection caused by MRSA may cause more harm to patients and is associated with poorer patient outcomes as there are fewer antimicrobials available to treat the infection.
More information on antimicrobial resistance is available from the Department of Health website.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.