This report provides information and data on Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus, or ‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SABSI) associated with hospital care in Australia. It presents national information on healthcare-associated SABSI for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. Summary analyses are also provided for the previous 4 years.

SABSI data for public hospitals are provided to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) by states and territories as part of the National Staphylococcus aureus Bacteraemia Data Collection (NSABDC). However 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.

Private hospitals are also invited to supply SABSI data to the AIHW, although currently their participation in the NSABDC is voluntary. More information about the NSABDC is provided in the Data quality statement.

Information relating to SABSI occurring in individual public hospitals and participating private hospitals is available from MyHospitals. Note that due to various administrative arrangements, SABSI data for a small number of public hospitals is not reported on MyHospitals but included in counts within this report.

Impact of hand washing: COVID-19 and SABSI

While the data here include the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no clear indication of a link between SABSI rates and the response to the pandemic. Hand hygiene, for example, is a common strategy in both the efforts to reduce SABSI in Australia’s hospitals as well as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is only one of a variety of risk factors that influence infection rates and the associations are complex. This makes drawing links difficult. The Australian rates of hand hygiene compliance can be explored from MyHospitals

‘Bloodstream infections’ vs ‘bacteraemia’

Previous editions of this report have used the term 'bacteraemia' for these infections. Wherever possible, this report uses the term 'bloodstream infections' rather than bacteraemia.

‘Antimicrobials’ vs ‘antibiotics’

Antimicrobials are medicines that kill or slow the growth of microorganisms that cause diseases. Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed antimicrobial against bacteria.