Killer bugs: Your hospital infection rates revealed
One in 10 patients in Australian hospitals catch a bug during their stay, ranging from potentially deadly bugs like golden staph to urinary tract infections - a rate much higher than previously thought.
And your chances can vary according to what hospital you go to, which medical experts say should not be dependent on the size or location of the hospital.
Many patients are infected during surgery, or from IV drips, catheters or prosthetics such as knee replacements.
Despite massive efforts to clamp down on these hospital-acquired infections, researchers say the prevalence rates were higher than originally believed. They say Australia needs to set up a national surveillance program as state-based systems do not provide consistent data.
The chance of catching a bug varies depending on what hospital you visit.
A patient at Manning Hospital in the Hunter, for example, has the lowest risk in the state of being infected with golden staph than anywhere else.
It has a rate of 0.17 per 10,000 patient days, compared with the worst in the state at Milton Ulladulla on the south coast, at 2.05.
Other poor performers include Gosford, Calvary Mater Newcastle, Murwillumbah and Wollongong. Gosford, for example, has a rate of 1.66, which is above the figure of 0.65 calculated for a hospital of its size and demographic.
At the Randwick-based Sydney Children's Hospital the rate is 1.41, while the equivalent average figure is calculated at 1.17.
According to infection expert Associate Professor Philip Russo from Monash University, "patients have the right to expect the same quality of care whatever hospital they visit".
"The risk of acquiring a healthcare-associated infection should not be dependent on the size or location of the facility a patient attends," he said.
His team undertook the first national check in 34 years, going into 19 hospitals and recording how many patients had infections. The last time such a study was done nationally in 1984, it estimated rates of 6.3 per cent, but Prof Russo's team documented rates running at 10 per cent.
Originally published as Killer bugs: Your hospital infection rates revealed