The first point prevalence survey performed in Austria had the aim to assess the magnitude of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobials use in the country.
A multicentre study was carried out from May until June 2012 in nine acute care hospitals with a mean bed number of 620. Data from 4321 patients’ clinical charts were reviewed.
The overall healthcare-associated infections prevalence was 6.2 % (268/4321) with the highest rate in intensive care departments (20.9 %; 49/234). In medical and surgical departments the healthcare-associated infections prevalence was 5.4 % (95/1745) and 6.6 % (105/1586), respectively. The most frequent healthcare-associated infections were: urinary tract infections (21.3 %; 61/287), pneumonia (20.6 %; 59/287) and surgical site infections (17.4 %; 50/287). The most common isolated microorganisms were: Escherichia coli (14.8 %; 26/176), Enterococcus species (13.1 %; 23/176) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (11.4 %; 20/176). Thirty-three per cent (1425/4321) of the patients received antimicrobials because of community-acquired infections treatment (14.2 %; 615/4321), healthcare-associated infections treatment (6.4 %; 278/4321), and surgical (8.2 %; 354/4321) and medical prophylaxis (3.2 %; 138/4321). Surgical prophylaxis was the indication for 22.0 % (394/1792) of the overall prescriptions and was prolonged for more than 1 day in 77.2 % (304/394) of the cases.
The national Austrian survey proved the feasibility of a nation-wide network of surveillance of both healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use that will be repeated in the future. Healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial use have been confirmed to be a grave health problem. The excessive prolongation of perioperative prophylaxis in Austria needs to be limited.