The Use of Clinical Coding Data for the Surveillance of Healthcare-Associated Urinary Tract Infections in Australia

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This article was originally published as:

Mitchell, B. G., & Ferguson, J. K. (2016). The use of clinical coding data for the surveillance of healthcare-associated urinary tract infections in Australia. Infection, Disease and Health, 21(1), 32-35. doi: 10.1016/j.idh.2016.03.002

ISSN: 2468-0451

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Given the trends in antimicrobial resistance, particularly for Gram-negative organisms, the surveillance of urinary tract infections (UTIs) has the potential to become increasingly important in the future. Whilst considering accuracy and efficiency, we undertook a cohort study in a large Australian health district to inform future discussions around surveillance approaches to healthcare-associated UTIs (HAUTI).


A retrospective cohort study in eight hospitals was conducted to examine the clinical coding data of all patients hospitalised for more than two days over a four-and-half-year period. These data were compared to a conservative laboratory-based HAUTI definition.


The data from 162,503 patient admissions were examined. During the study period, 2821 of the admitted patients acquired a HAUTI. Of those patients identified as having a laboratory-diagnosed HAUTI, 29.3% had a clinical code relating to a UTI.


The clinical coding data used to identify cases of HAUTI is very unreliable as a significant proportion of cases were not identified. To ensure the efficient and effective use of resources, a range of approaches should be considered in the event of HAUTI surveillance being required.


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