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Using data linkage methodologies to augment healthcare-associated infection surveillance data

  • Seungwon Lee (a1), Paul Ronksley (a1) (a2), John Conly (a3) (a4) (a2) (a5), Stephanie Garies (a1) (a6), Hude Quan (a1) (a2), Peter Faris (a7), Bing Li (a7) and Elizabeth Henderson (a1)...


Background and objectives:

The landscape of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance is changing rapidly. The primary objective of this study was to assess the benefit of linking population-based infection prevention and control surveillance data on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to hospital discharge abstract data (DAD). We assessed the value of this novel data linkage for the characterization of hospital-acquired (HA) and community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) cases.


Incident inpatient MRSA surveillance data for all adults (≥18 years) from 4 acute-care facilities in Calgary, Alberta, between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2017, were linked to DAD. Personal health number (PHN) and gender were used to identify specific individuals, and specimen collection time-points were used to identify specific hospitalization records. A third common variable on admission date between these databases was used to validate the linkage process. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA cases identified through the linkage process.


A total of 2,430 surveillance records (94.6%) were successfully linked to the correct hospitalization period. By linking surveillance and administrative data, we were able to identify key differences between patients with HA- and CA-MRSA. These differences are consistent with previously reported findings in the literature. Data linkage to DAD may be a novel tool to enhance and augment the details of base surveillance data.

Conclusion and recommendations:

This is the first Canadian study linking a frontline healthcare-associated infection AMR surveillance database to an administrative population database. This work represents an important methodological step toward complementing traditional AMR surveillance data practices. Data linkage to other data types, such as primary care, emergency, social, and biological data, may be the basis of achieving more precise data focused around AMR.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Dr Elizabeth Henderson, Email:


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PREVIOUS PRESENTATION. This study was presented at the 2018 International Population Data Linkage Conference on September 13, 2018, in Banff, Alberta, Canada.



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Supplementary materials

Lee et al. supplementary material
Tables S1-S3 and Figures S1-S2

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