Admitted patients safety and quality

The quality of care provided to patients admitted to hospitals can be measured in several ways. One way is to use data from hospitals to measure rates of:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SABSI)
  • Hand hygiene compliance
  • Unplanned readmissions
  • Hospital-acquired complications and adverse events
  • Potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs).

Another way is to survey people about their experiences as hospital patients. Information gathered through hospital data and patient surveys does not cover all aspects of hospital safety and quality. Certain aspects of safety and quality—continuity of care and responsiveness of hospital services—are difficult to measure and are not included here.

Media release: Golden staph bloodstream infections continue to fall in Australian public hospitals​

Last updated v24.0

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus, or ‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SABSI) associated with hospital care can be serious, particularly when bacteria are resistant to common antimicrobials. SABSI can be acquired after a patient receives medical care or treatment in a hospital. Contracting SABSI 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. In 2020, the Victorian government granted an exemption to all Victorian hospitals from reporting routine surveillance during the period 1 April to 31 December inclusive due to some hospitals having resource issues due to pandemic response requirements. This included an exemption from submitting data on SABSI and hand hygiene audits.

The current nationally agreed benchmark set under the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) is no more than 2.0 cases of healthcare-associated SABSI per 10,000 days of patient care for public hospitals in each state and territory.

Explore the data

In the data visualisation below you can explore information on healthcare associated infections by hospital between 2010–11 and 2019–20.

Healthcare-associated infections

All data in these visualisations are available for download in the Data & downloads section of the MyHospitals website.

Hospitals and LHNs

This figure shows the number of healthcare-associated infections between 2010–11 and 2018–19. Data is presented by measure (number of healthcare-associated infections, number of patient days under surveillance, rate of healthcare-associated infections), infection category, public/private and peer group. Hospital data is available.

National trends

SABSI in public hospitals

In 2019–20:

  • all states and territories had rates of SABSI below the national benchmark of 2.0 cases per 10,000 patient days
  • there were 1,428 cases of SABSI occurring during 20.0 million days of patient care under surveillance. Patient days under SABSI surveillance covered 99% of days of patient care in public hospitals
  • 83% of SABSI cases were methicillin-sensitive (MSSA), and therefore treatable with commonly used antimicrobials.

Changes over time

Between 2015–16 and 2019–20:

  • SABSI rates over the past 5 years fluctuated between 0.74–0.71 cases per 10,000 patient days
  • the proportion of MSSA cases slightly increased from 81% to 83%.
  • the proportion of MRSA cases slightly decreased from 19% to 17%.

 SABSI in private hospitals

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 so reported data may not be representative of the sector as a whole.

In 2019–20:

  • 183 private hospitals (or 28%) participated in the NSABDC. This included 3 private hospitals that also provided public hospital services (and are therefore shown as public hospitals on this website)
  • a total of 202 SABSI cases were reported by private hospitals
  • the total SABSI rate for all private hospitals participating in the 2019–20 NSABDC was 0.30 cases per 10,000 patient days.