Healthcare associated infections

Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are a major cause of poor outcomes for patients. Research shows that a significant proportion of infections can be prevented by adherence to established infection control practices. The SA Health Infection Control Service monitors the occurrence of HAI and provides state guidelines, tools and resource materials to assist Infection Control Professionals in all clinical settings. The Service also provides information and fact sheets for the health professional and the consumer, and education on the principles of infection prevention to various health professionals.

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Health service standards

The prevention of HAI is considered to be a high priority patient safety issue and is covered under Standard 3 of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. These standards contain the essential requirements for good clinical practice in all Australian hospitals, and compliance is considered mandatory for accreditation. In order to assist healthcare facilities to comply with Standard 3, SA Health has developed a a number of resources. A suite of audit tools (PDF 238KB) has also been developed; excel version of the tools are available on request by contacting SA Health's Infection Control Service.

The SA Health HAI Prevention Policy Directive (PDF 422KB) outlines requirements for an effective infection control program.

The second edition of Standard 3 contains actions grouped into 4 main criteria:

  • Clinical governance and quality improvement
  • Infection prevention and control systems
  • Reprocessing of reusable medical devices
  • Antimicrobial stewardship.

Governance and quality systems for infection prevention, control and surveillance

Systems must be place to support and promote prevention and control of healthcare-associated infection and improve antimicrobial stewardship. This includes

The SA Health HAI Prevention Policy Directive (PDF 440KB) outlines the requirements for an effective infection control program.

Infection prevention and control strategies

Strategies for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections are developed and implemented. These include:

Managing patients with infection or colonisation

Patients presenting with, or acquiring, an infection or colonisation with a multidrug-resistant organism, Clostridioides difficile, Candida auris or other transmissible infection during their care are identified promptly and receive the necessary management and treatment.

This includes:

Antimicrobial stewardship

Safe and appropriate antimicrobial prescribing is a strategic goal of the clinical governance system. This includes:

Cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation

Healthcare facilities and the associated environment are clean and hygienic. Details on protocols and risk assessment for cleaning of the healthcare environment can be found in the SA Health Cleaning Standard for Healthcare Facilities (PDF 2MB).

Reprocessing of re-usable medical device meets current best practice Guidelines and Standards.

Communicating with patients and carers

Information on healthcare associated infections is provided to patients, carers, consumers and service providers.

Further information

For further information on the prevention of healthcare associated infection contact SA Health's Infection Control Service on (08) 7425 7161.