ECCMID19: Low microbiological testing rates reported in healthcare-associated infections

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The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC; Stockholm, Sweden) has estimated that 9 million cases of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) occur across Europe every year, according to the most comprehensive assessment of HAIs in Europe to date presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID; 13–16 April, Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

The study is based on data from two ECDC point prevalence surveys of HAIs and antimicrobial use in both long-term facilities and acute care hospitals in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). Trained staff used standardized questionnaires to collect data from voluntarily participating facilities on every patient or resident who was present on the day of the survey.

A total of 310,755 patients from 1209 acute care hospitals across 28 EU/EAA countries and 117,138 residents from 1798 long-term care facilities in 24 EU/EAA countries participated in the analysis.

The findings reported that on any given day in 2016–2017, 6.5% of patients in acute care hospitals and 3.9% of residents in long-term care facilities had at least one HAI. However, the researchers discovered that differences in national HAI rates could be attributed to the rates of microbiological testing – with countries that had lower testing rates reporting few HAIs than countries with higher testing rates.

In long-term care facilities, it was reported that only 19% HAIs had a microbiological test result available in the facility to guide treatment and control. In acute care hospitals, the figure was 53%, a factor that could be hampering effective treatment as well as infection surveillance, prevention and control.

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