A new World Health Organization (WHO) study (Report on the Burden of Endemic Health Care Associated Infection Worldwide: Clean Care is Safer Care) indicates that Canada has a high rate of Health Care Acquired Infections (HCAIs) compared to other developed countries.
The study reports that Canada’s HAI incidence is 11.6%. Of the world’s economically advanced economies, only New Zealand reported a higher rate at 12%. (Notably, New Zealand also has very few hospital beds per capita.) While Canada has a rate of 11.6% the HCAI prevalence in high income countries is 7.6%:
“According to published national or multicentre studies, pooled HCAI prevalence in mixed patient populations was 7.6% in high-income countries ...The estimated HCAI incidence rate in the USA was 4.5% in 2002, corresponding to 9 3 infections per 1000 patient-days and 1 7 million affected patients”
The Canadian rate is more than 50% higher than the rate reported for high income countries.
While HCAI rates in developing countries are often higher than in Canada, some such countries have reported rates lower than Canada: Indonesia, Cuba, Latvia, Lithuania, Iran, Thailand, Lebanon, and Mongolia.
The study underlines the large impact of HCAIs:
“In Europe, HCAIs cause 16 million extra-days of hospital stay, 37 000 attributable deaths, and contribute to an additional 110,000 every year Annual financial losses are estimated at approximately € 7 billion, including direct costs only. In the USA, approximately 99 000 deaths were attributed to HCAI in 2002 and the annual economic impact was estimated at approximately US$ 6.5 billion in 2004....
WHO reports that the incidence of HCAIs is especially associated with treatment in intensive care units: “In high-income countries, approximately 30% of ICU patients are affected by at least one episode of HCAI.”
The WHO study notes that HCAIs can be prevented:
“Robust evidence exists that HCAI can be prevented and the burden reduced by as much as 50% or more. Solid recommendations have been issued by national and international organizations, but their application needs to be strengthened and accompanied by performance monitoring both in high-income and low- and middle income countries HCAI must be treated as a priority patient safety issue within comprehensive approaches to be tackled effectively.”