Researchers support ECDC to tackle hospital infections across Europe

13 March 2015

GCU has expertise in HAI research

GCU has expertise in HAI research

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers have informed a European protocol to validate the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) methods of standardising and collecting data on the number of people with healthcare associated infections (HAIs).

Subsequently, GCU is part of a major European training programme across 28 countries to ensure that hospitals correctly inform the ECDC, an EU agency tasked with identifying, assessing and communicating threats to human health posed by infectious diseases, about prevalence rates of HAIs. This will enable it to make policy recommendations for implementation across Europe.

HAIs are those acquired by patients during their stay in a hospital. Although some of these infections can be treated easily, others may more seriously affect a patient’s health, increasing their stay in the hospital, requiring further surgical intervention or prolonged treatment with antimicrobials.

Professor Jacqui Reilly, Dr Lesley Price and Professor Jon Godwin conducted the first European-wide study to validate the ECDC’s methods of standardising and collecting data on the number of people with HAIs. This work has been highlighted in a new paper published in Eurosurveillance journal.

The team aimed to test the sensitivity and specificity of using a point prevalence survey to report the occurrence of HAIs and antimicrobial use in hospitals at a European level, as well as the consistency of surveys across hospitals in Europe.

In epidemiology, point prevalence is a measure of the proportion of people in a population who have a disease or condition at a particular time.

The GCU study suggested the point prevalence survey (PPS) was a valid and reliable reporting of HAIs and antimicrobial use, giving the ECDC confidence that there was an accurate picture of the total burden of HAIs and antimicrobial use in European acute care hospitals and providing a solid evidence base for developing European policy and practice in acute hospitals.

Based on the findings from the PPS, the ECDC estimates that on any given day, one in 18 patients in European hospitals has at least one HAI.

Twenty-eight European countries now use the validation method determined by GCU research. The ECDC said a major step has been made towards increasing the skills for surveillance of HAIs and antimicrobial use, and raising awareness of HAIs among thousands of healthcare workers across Europe.

GCU is ranked in the top 20 in the UK for health research at world-leading and internationally excellent standards, according to the recent 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) results.

ECDC will organise a second Europe-wide point prevalence survey next year.