This report presents rates of healthcare-associated bloodstream infections in Australia’s biggest public hospitals caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus.

Although commonly found on the skin of healthy people, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) can cause serious illness if it gets into the bloodstream. Evidence suggests 20% to 35% of people with this sort of infection die from it or a related cause. S. aureus bloodstream infections contracted while in hospital are considered potentially preventable and hospitals aim to have as few of these infections as possible.

In 2013–14, there were 1,621 cases of healthcare-associated S. aureus reported as being acquired while receiving care in a public hospital – around 100, nearly 6%, fewer cases than in 2012–13. Since 2012–13, there were 44 fewer cases in major hospitals with more vulnerable patients, 44 fewer cases in major hospitals with fewer vulnerable patients and 17 fewer cases in large hospitals with fewer vulnerable patients.

The number of cases increased by 10 in large hospitals with more vulnerable patients. The report highlights variation in infection rates across major and large hospitals. Among major hospitals with more vulnerable patients the rate of infection varied more than three-fold. At major hospitals with fewer vulnerable patients the rates showed a similar level of variation.