Call For Mandatory Reporting Of Golden Staph Bloodstream Infections

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 3 2009 12:03 PM

Mandatory reporting of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (bloodstream infections) should be introduced to help improved health care practices and save lives, according to an editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The 5 October issue of the MJA includes three articles on bloodstream infections caused by the bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, which is commonly known as golden staph.

The articles include the results of an observational study of 27 independent or hospital pathology laboratories in Australia and New Zealand by Professor John Turnidge, Director of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at SA Pathology, and co-authors, which found that 20.6 per cent of patients diagnosed with Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) died within 30 days.

Professor Peter Collignon, Director of Infectious Diseases at Canberra Hospital, and Dr Marilyn Cruickshank, of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, write in the editorial that Australia is facing a rapidly growing health problem from methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

"Mandatory reporting should be introduced to ensure all health care facilities start collecting and acting on data about SAB infections," Prof Collignon said. We need to ensure that in each hospital each case is looked at to try and determine why it occurred. Then health professionals need to intervene at their own local level to ensure policies are implemented or changed to reduce infection rates.

"Interventions such as compliance with hand washing and improved care of intravenous catheters can lead to major reductions in SAB infection rates."

Professor Turnidge and his co-authors write that a national web-based surveillance of SAB and its outcomes should be established.

Associate Professor Paul Johnson, Deputy Director of the Infectious Diseases Department at Austin Health in Melbourne, and his co-authors report on a program that made health care-related Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia a quality indicator at Austin Health.

Prof Johnson said the program resulted in a 55 per cent reduction in hospital-acquired Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemias, probably preventing 80 costly and potentially fatal infections.