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12 Aug 2014 Intensive care infections remain at low levels

Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) rates in intensive care units (ICU) in Scotland remain at a low level, according to the annual report from the Surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infection in Intensive Care Units programme, published today by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

Dr Stephen Cole, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Chairman of the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group said:

"This report remains unique in providing almost complete coverage of the entire ICU population of a whole country. Following significant declines in previous years, rates of HAI in Intensive Care Units remain at a relatively low level. This reflects the importance attached at Board, Hospital and Unit level to minimising harm and improving the quality of care in this critically ill group of patients.”

“Future work will focus on how we can collect and analyse our data more effectively to identify opportunities for new approaches, such as identifying and targeting those patients most at risk of developing an HAI.”

Data collected during 2013 showed that three in every 100 patients staying in ICU for more than two days developed an infection, 1.6 in every 100 patients developed ventilator associated pneumonia and 1.3 in every 100 patients developed a bloodstream infection.

"Professor Jacqui Reilly, Lead consultant in HAI at HPS said “ Incidence rates of selected HAI in ICU  in Scotland in 2013 are similar to those reported from 2012, which may represent a plateau in HAI in the intensive care setting, as has been seen in other HAI surveillance programmes since 2012.”


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Notes to the Editor

  • The Surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infections in Scottish Intensive Care Units Annual Report 2013 presents data on the number of pneumonia, bloodstream infections and central venous catheter-related infections there have been across general adult intensive care units across Scotland. It can be accessed at
  • This report was written and produced by the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group (SICSAG) collaborative group for the Scottish Intensive Care Unit Associated Infection Surveillance Programme.
  • Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is part of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), a special health board providing services critical to frontline patient care and which is supportive of the efficient and effective operation of the NHS in Scotland.
  • The Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group (SICSAG) aims to improve the quality of care delivered to these patients by monitoring and comparing activities and outcomes across Scottish Critical Care.
  • The HAI Annual Report 2013 published in May 2014 reported on all Scottish HAI surveillance activity and stated that infection rates continued to plateau, a trend that emerged in 2012. Work is being carried out across a number of surveillance programmes to improve understanding around the epidemiology of HAI so that new approaches to reduce risk of HAI further and to ensure that patients most at risk are targeted.