What are Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections (SABSI)?

Staphylococcus aureus are frequently found on the skin or in the nose of many individuals and are commonly spread from person to person in the community. These bacteria are usually harmless and most people are unaware they are carrying them. In hospitals, Staphylococcus aureus may be transmitted between people, often through direct or indirect physical contact. Bacteria from the patient’s skin or from the hand of a healthcare worker can gain direct entry into a patient’s bloodstream if they have open wounds (including incisions) or when invasive devices such as catheters are inserted. Other patients who have a greater risk of SABSI are those with:

  • weakened immune systems (associated with cancer, or with transplant receipt, or with being very young or elderly)
  • with chronic diseases such as diabetes or
  • severe underlying illness.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus, or ‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SABSI) may occur as a result of the delivery of health care and these infections are called healthcare-associated. Many healthcare-associated infections, including SABSI, are considered to be potentially preventable.

For more information on the definition of healthcare-associated SABSI see Appendix A.

Is SABSI serious?

Patients who develop SABSI are more likely to suffer complications that result in longer hospital stays and increased costs of hospitalisation. SABSI can result in death.