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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


DRAMOWSKI, A; COTTON, M F  and  WHITELAW, A. Surveillance of healthcare-associated infection in hospitalised South African children: Which method performs best?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2017, vol.107, n.1, pp.56-63. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. In 2012, the South African (SA) National Department of Health mandated surveillance of healthcare-associated infection (HAI), but made no recommendations of appropriate surveillance methods. METHODS. Prospective clinical HAI surveillance (the reference method) was conducted at Tygerberg Childrens Hospital, Cape Town, from 1 May to 31 October 2015. Performance of three surveillance methods (point prevalence surveys (PPSs), laboratory surveillance and tracking of antimicrobial prescriptions) was compared with the reference method using surveillance evaluation guidelines. Factors associated with failure to detect HAI were identified by logistic regression analysis. RESULTS. The reference method detected 417 HAIs among 1 347 paediatric hospitalisations (HAI incidence of 31/1000 patient days; 95% confidence interval (CI) 28.2 - 34.2). Surveillance methods had variable sensitivity (S) and positive predictive value (PPV): PPS S = 24.9% (95% CI 21-29.3), PPV = 100%; laboratory surveillance S = 48.4% (95% CI 43.7 - 53.2), PPV = 55.2% (95% CI 50.1-60.2); and antimicrobial prescriptions S = 66.4% (95% CI 61.8 - 70.8%), PPV = 88.5% (95% CI 84.5 - 91.6). Combined laboratory-antimicrobial surveillance achieved superior HAI detection (S = 84.7% (95% CI 80.9 - 87.8%), PPV = 97% (95% CI 94.6 - 98.4%)). Factors associated with failure to detect HAI included patient transfer (odds ratio (OR) 2.0), single HAI event (OR 2.8), age category 1 - 5 years (OR 2.1) and hospitalisation in a general ward (OR 2.3). CONCLUSIONS. Repeated PPSs, laboratory surveillance and/or antimicrobial prescription tracking are feasible HAI surveillance methods for low-resource settings. Combined laboratory-antimicrobial surveillance achieved the best sensitivity and PPV. SA paediatric healthcare facilities should individualise HAI surveillance, selecting a method suited to available resources and practice context.

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