This report presents national information on cases of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) associated with care provided by public hospitals for 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. This report builds on robust national and jurisdictional arrangements to monitor and reduce SAB.

What is SAB?

  • SAB is a serious bloodstream infection that may be associated with hospital care. As such, it is known as a type of healthcare-associated infection.
  • Patients who develop bloodstream infections such as SAB are more likely to suffer complications that result in a longer hospital stay and an increased cost of hospitalisation. Serious infections may also result in death.
  • In December 2008, Australian Health Ministers endorsed the reporting of SAB by all hospitals in their relevant jurisdiction to form a national data collection.
  • In addition, rates of SAB, including cases caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, were announced in 2008 as one of the performance indicators to be reported by jurisdictions under the National Healthcare Agreement.

SAB rates in 2011-12

  • In 2011-12, all states and territories had rates of SAB below the national benchmark of 2.0 cases per 10,000 patient days. The national rate was 0.9 cases per 10, 000 patient days.
  • The rates ranged from 0.7 per 10,000 patient days in Western Australia to 1.3 in the Northern Territory.
  • There were 1,734 cases of SAB reported for Australian public hospitals overall, of which 76% were methicillin sensitive, and therefore treatable with commonly used antibiotics. This was slightly lower than the 1,875 cases reported nationally in 2010-11.
  • The reported SAB cases occurred during 18.5 million days of patient care under SAB surveillance during 2011-12.
  • Between 2010-11 and 2011-12, rates of SAB decreased nationally, and in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory. The rate increased in the Australian Capital Territory.