The most recent National Health Performance Authority report reveals the number of patients developing blood infections from the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is highest in major hospitals.
S. aureus, or "Golden Staph", is a "potentially preventable" bloodstream infection that patients can develop whilst undergoing medical treatment in hospital.
The report, titled Hospital Performance: Healthcare-associated Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections in 2011-12, demonstrates that, of the 352 public hospitals which documented a collective 1,725 cases of the infection, 82 per cent were major hospitals.
Major hospitals with more at-risk patients accounted for 60 per cent of all reported cases, 1,046 cases in all. Those with less at-risk patients accounted for 22 per cent, or 381 cases.
Dr Diane Watson, who is chief executive officer of the National Health Performance Authority, said in a May 23 statement that the proportion of patients that are infected by this bacteria is relatively small considering the number of people who receive medical treatment and care in public hospitals every year.
However, she revealed that "the most serious of these bloodstream infections can prove fatal," so this is no time for complacency.
"Every case of healthcare-associated S. aureus bloodstream infection is considered
potentially preventable," stated Dr Watson.
She also noted that there were noticeable differences in infection rates across similar hospitals, which is something the National Health Performance Authority needs to look into.
Some major hospitals with more at-risk patients saw infection rates of S. aureus that were four times higher than others. And in those major hospitals with less at-risk patients, some saw infection rates up to fifteen times higher than others.
This may indicate that hospital-reporting methods are not consistent across the board.
In 2011, the Council of Australian Governments elected 48 "indicators" that they would use to guide all of the National Health Performance Authority's decisions. The rate of S. aureus bloodstream infections was one of these.
The Council's target is to have no more than 2.0 cases of healthcare-associated S. aureus per 10,000 patient bed days in every territory and state.
At the moment, these major hospitals are seeing everything from 0.17 to 2.59 cases of this bloodstream infection per 10,000 patient bed days.
If you take out a family health insurance plan, you will have much more freedom when it comes to choosing which hospital you receive medical treatment at.
By comparing health insurance policies, you can determine which plan best suits your needs.