This report presents national information on cases of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) associated with care provided by public hospitals for 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011. Timely provision of these data by states and territories has allowed this information to be reported within 5 months of the end of the collection period. This report builds on robust jurisdictional and private hospital arrangements to monitor and reduce SAB.

What is SAB?

  • SAB is a serious bloodstream infection that may be associated with hospital care.
  • The aim is to have as few cases of SAB as possible. One of the most effective ways to minimise the risk of SAB and other healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is good hand hygiene.
  • 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 bloodstream infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), were announced in 2008 as one of the performance indicators to be reported by jurisdictions under the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA).

SAB rates by jurisdiction

  • In 2010–11, all states and territories had rates of SAB below the national benchmark of 2.0 cases per 10,000 patient days.
  • The rates ranged from 0.9 cases per 10,000 patient days in Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory to 1.4 in the Northern Territory.
  • There were 1,873 cases of SAB reported for Australian public hospitals overall. More than two-thirds (73%) were methicillin sensitive, and would therefore have been treatable with commonly used antibiotics.
  • The reported SAB cases occurred during approximately 17 million days of patient care under SAB surveillance during 2010–11.