The projects are underway at the Centre of Research Excellence in Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections (CRE-RHAI), a collaboration headed by QUT Professor Nick Graves.
Professor Graves said the Centre brought together a diverse group of experts from clinical and academic fields to work together to improve infection control at a clinical and policy level.
He said reducing hospital-acquired infection rates by just one per cent would free up an extra 150,158 bed days per year.
“A major thrust of the research is providing information on the cost-effectiveness of infection control programs and providing information on how this information could be used to change health services and policy,” Professor Graves said.
“It will be better for patients, health-care systems and society as a whole if better systems for preventing and dealing with hospital-acquired infections are developed.”
He said eight research projects were currently underway at the Centre.
•Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is the foremost cause of in-hospital infectious diarrhoea and colitis. Having a more complete understanding of the costs related to C.diff infection will enable an improved approach to infection control practices and allow an improvement in the way that health services allocate resources to infection control.
•Transmission and cost-effective control of VRE (Vanconycin-Resistant Enteroccocci) – Enterococci bacteria can survive on inanimate objects for months and VRE is an emerging problem in Queensland. This research project is looking at different methods of transmission, rather than simply patient-to-patient transmission, and will test how the spread of VRE is affected by the movement of patients within and between hospitals.
•Develop efficient VRE screening strategies in Queensland public hospitals. This research project will explore current VRE screening activity and its health and economic outcomes as well as the factors that influence screening practices.
•Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) strains have been circulating within hospitals since the 1990s causing treatments to fail, increasing patient mortality and increasing healthcare costs. This research will help decision makers choose the best mix of interventions to reduce MRSA transmission and update MRSA guidelines to provide information on cost-effective strategies enabling decision makers to make the best use of scarce healthcare resources.
•Environmental cleaning (hygiene) in hospitals is a key element of infection prevention and an area that is under-researched. This research project will identify the most effective, evidence-based, cleaning products and techniques that could be bundled together and design a comprehensive training, monitoring and feedback system.
• Antimicrobial resistance is a widely publicised problem in healthcare associated infections. This research will examine the cost-effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship programs in Australian hospitals and consider which programs offer the best value for money as well as explore how factors external to the stewardship program, such as hospital organisational support or pathology test turnaround times might affect the program’s efficacy and efficiency.
•Post-Caesarean Surgical Suite Infections (SSI) increase a patient’s stay in hospital and increase pressure on scarce resources in health systems. This research will identify the competing risk reduction strategies and assess their effectiveness and ultimately answer the question: What is the incremental cost-effectiveness of different interventions to prevent post-caesarean surgical site infection?
•Evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the current Queensland Health influenza vaccination programme for healthcare workers. This research project will look at the effectiveness of the current program in terms of reduced staff absenteeism, whether programme expenditures compensate by reduced sick days during flu season and provide advice on whether the current programme should be continued.
The Centre of Research Excellence in Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901 firstname.lastname@example.org