HSE publishes Health Care Associated Infection statistics



Key findings show marginal decrease in infection rates

The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre is today (Friday, May 16th) publishing a report on data relating to HCAI and antimicrobial resistance for acute public hospitals in Ireland.  The initiative is part of the strategy for prevention and control of healthcare associated infection (HCAI), launched in March 2007.  

Read or download this report here - Health Care Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Data for Irish Hospitals, 2006-2007 

Three sets of data are included in the report, all relating to data reported by hospitals for 2006 and 2007:

  1. Antibiotic consumption
  2. Staphylococcus aureus ( including MRSA) bloodstream infections
  3. Alcohol-based hand rub consumption

The data in the report do not allow direct comparison between individual hospitals. However, they do provide valuable information that will allow individual hospitals to monitor their progress with implementing the HSE’s HCAI strategy, and identify priorities for future implementation.

Key findings in the report include:

  1. Antibiotic consumption
    There was a slight increase in hospital antibiotic consumption, from 79 defined daily doses (DDD) per 100 bed-days used* in 2006 to 81 DDD per 100 bed-days used in 2007. This is in the mid-range of hospital antibiotic consumption, compared to other European countries. Most of the variation in the level of antibiotic consumption between individual hospitals is probably explained by differences in the types of patients treated, and services delivered, by different hospitals.

  2. Staph aureusbloodstream infections
    There was a decrease in the number of meticillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections, from 572 in 2006 to 526 in 2007. There was also a small decrease in the rate of MRSA bloodstream infection from 0.15 cases per 1000 bed-days used in 2006, to 0.14 cases per 1000 bed-days used in 2007. Although there has been some reduction in the reported level of MRSA bloodstream infections, the rate is still high compared to other European countries. Most of the variation in reported numbers of S. aureus bloodstream infections between hospitals can be explained by differences in hospital size, activity and patient populations.

  3. Alcohol hand-rub consumption
    There was a marked increase in the average amount of alcohol hand-rubs used in hospitals, from 10.5 litres per 1000 bed-days in 2006 to 15.0 litres per 1000 bed-days in 2007. The overall level of alcohol hand rub consumption is similar to levels reported from successful hand hygiene campaigns internationally, such as that reported by Pittet et al. from Geneva.


The HSE remains committed to targets set last year, when it was stated that we aim to

  • Reduce Health Care Associated Infections by 20%
  • Reduce MRSA infections by 30% and
  • Reduce antibiotic consumption by 20%

The data included in the latest report are associated with multiple caveats. Nevertheless, it demonstrates the willingness of hospitals in Ireland to provide data, and provides crucial baseline measurement that will inform the further implementation of the HSE’s HCAI strategy.

HSE wish to acknowledge the considerable time and effort taken by microbiologists, infection prevention and control nurses, surveillance scientists, pharmacists and hospital management to provide the data included in the report.


*”Defined daily dose” is a standardised measure of antibiotic consumption, defined by the World Health Organisation, and is based on the average daily dose of a given antibiotic for its most common use in adults.

“Bed-days used” is a measure of hospital activity, based on acute inpatient bed use. If a person occupies an inpatient bed for all or part of one 24-hour period, that is counted as one bed-day.

The full report is available to download or read below or on the HPSC website at www.hpsc.ie

For further information contact:

Ann McLoone

Deputy Head

National Press & Media Relations


087 2957225

01 6352840

Last updated on: 16 / 05 / 2008