The significant burden of healthcare associated infection is affecting one patient in every ward, in every hospital across Scotland, according to a report from Health Protection Scotland (HPS).
The National Point Prevalence survey (PPS), published today (Tuesday 23 May) indicates the current prevalence of HAI in acute hospitals is 4.5%, which while significantly lower than five years ago, still represents one in 22 patients at any one time, or 55,500 infections every year.
There has also been significant improvement in practice in the prescribing agenda in Scotland in recent years, although antibiotic prescribing in hospitals was found to be significantly higher than five years ago, and has serious implications for the threat of antibiotic resistance.
Professor Jacqui Reilly, lead consultant for Healthcare Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention Control at Health Protection Scotland, said: "Healthcare associated infections remain a public health threat across all care settings.
"The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has recently confirmed that these infections represent the highest burden of all communicable diseases monitored in Europe. Health Protection Scotland will develop national programmes to tackle these new threats and work with NHS colleagues to preserve antibiotics for future use.
"We will particularly focus on those broader spectrum ones which are last resort antibiotics, as when these stop working there are no new antibiotics in the pipeline to treat many of these new infection types we are seeing."
Pneumonia and urinary tract infections continue to make up a substantial proportion of the healthcare associated infection burden. E. coli was also newly identified as the predominant cause of healthcare associated infection in the survey, so new infection prevention measures are needed to tackle the changing risk.
These organisms are associated with the current threat of antibiotic resistance and so a continued focus on prescribing for these infections is also required to ensure antibiotics are preserved and protected for the future in hospitals and beyond.
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Notes to Editors