Understanding Surveillance of Infection

The IP Lead is responsible for the surveillance of healthcare associated infections in the facility.

Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are infections that develop while receiving health care. They can be caused by any bacteria, fungi, virus, parasite or prion.  

Examples of microorganisms that cause HAIs include Pseudomonas spp., Enterobacterales spp., Clostridioides difficile, Acinetobacter spp., Candida spp., norovirus and influenza virus.  

In Australia and New Zealand, it is estimated that around 16,500 HAIs occur each year in residential aged care facilities. The most common types of HAIs in these settings are urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, skin infections and gastrointestinal infections.  

Every HAI represents a person who has suffered from an infection that could have been prevented with proper infection control measures, and efforts should be made to reduce the incidence of these infections.  

What is Surveillance? 

HAI surveillance programmes enable facilities to monitor the outcomes of current practice and provide timely feedback to employees to ensure practice improvement and better resident outcomes. It involves monitoring and reporting of these events to assist in identifying  

Whether there is an infection control problem 

The magnitude of the problem 

The factors that contribute to infections 


Infection rate data should be used in a positive way to improve the quality and safety of healthcare. Going through the process of undertaking surveillance will not usually influence infection rates significantly unless it’s linked to a prevention strategy.