Urine test strips

UTI costing 380,000 extra bed days

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
World-first study demonstrates burden of urinary tract infections on hospitals

Urinary tract infections from inadequate healthcare practices are costing an extra 380,000 public hospital bed days in Australia each year, a world-first study demonstrates.

The study, conducted in eight New South Wales hospitals over four years, shows nearly two in every 100 patients acquire a urinary tract infection.

“We know from other studies that a large proportion of urinary tract infections occurring in hospitals are linked to catheter use, so the infections are potentially preventable,” says lead researcher Associate Professor Brett Mitchell, Director of the Lifestyle Research Centre at Avondale College of Higher Education.

This is good news for hospitals and patients because the study also examined, in a first in a developed country, extra length of stay in hospital due to urinary tract infections. The findings show patients with a healthcare-associated urinary tract infection stay in hospital four days longer than patients without an infection. That is an extra 380,000 public hospital bed days in Australia each year, which Mitchell describes as a “significant burden” on health services and on patients.

“We hope our study puts a spotlight on this infection,” says Mitchell, who collaborated with colleagues from the Discipline of Nursing at Avondale, Hunter New England Health and Queensland University of Technology. “We’re working for improved surveillance and measures to reduce the incidence in hospitals.”

Urinary tract infections are one of the most common acquired in hospital. The study examined more than 162,000 admissions over the four years and found 1.7 per cent of patients acquired a healthcare-associated urinary tract infection each year. As an extrapolation, this is about 95,000 patients across Australia each year.

“Infections are not going away,” says Mitchell. “Yes, we’re getting better at controlling some, but not this one—and the organisms that cause urinary tract infections are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. So, investing in prevention now will save hospitals and patients in the future.”

The Healthcare Infection Society’s Journal of Hospital Infection is publishing the study online this month.



Sara Bolst

Sara edited alumni magazine Reflections and served as Assistant Public Relations Officer during her tenure at Avondale College of Higher Education.