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To monitor hospital-wide trends in the prevalence of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in order to identify areas where the risk of infection is increasing.
Successive surveillance surveys were conducted twice yearly, from November 2001 until May 2004, to determine the prevalence of HAIs at 2 Dutch hospitals, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria.
In all, 340 HAIs were observed in 295 (11.1%) of 2,661 patients surveyed. The overall prevalence per survey varied from 10.2% to 15.6%, with no significant differences between successive surveys. In the surgical department, the prevalence of HAIs increased from 10.8 cases per 100 surgeries in November 2001 to 20.4 cases per 100 surgeries in May 2002. Further analysis revealed a high prevalence of surgical site infection among patients who had an orthopedic procedure performed. In the neurology-neurosurgery department, the prevalence increased from 13.0 cases per 100 patients in May 2002 to 26.6 cases per 100 patients in May 2003 and involved several types of infection. Further analysis retrieved exceptionally high incidences of infections associated with cerebrospinal fluid drainage. Specific infection control interventions were developed and implemented in both departments. The total cost of the surveys was estimated to be €9,100 per year.
Successive performance of surveillance surveys is a simple and cheap method to monitor the prevalence of infection throughout the hospital and appeared instrumental in identifying 2 departments with increased infection rates.
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