, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1080-1087
Date: 12 Feb 2013

Risk-adjusted monitoring of blood-stream infection in paediatric intensive care: a data linkage study

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National monitoring of variation in the quality of infection control in paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) requires comparisons of risk-adjusted rates. To inform the development of a national monitoring system, we evaluated the effects of risk-adjustment and outcome definition on comparisons of blood-stream infection (BSI) rates in PICU, using linkage of risk-factor data captured by national audit (PICANet) with laboratory records of BSI.


Admission data for two children’s hospitals 2003–2010 were extracted from PICANet and linked using multiple identifiers with laboratory BSI records. We calculated trends of PICU-acquired BSI, defined as BSI occurring between at least 2 days after admission until up to 2 days following discharge. In one PICU, we compared rates of all PICU-acquired BSI with clinically significant PICU-acquired BSI submitted to the national surveillance system.


Of 20,924 admissions, 1,428 (6.8 %) were linked to 1,761 PICU-acquired BSI episodes. The crude incidence rate-ratio for PICU-acquired BSI between PICUs was 1.15 [95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.05–1.26] but increased to 1.26 (1.14–1.39) after risk-adjustment. Rates of PICU-acquired BSI were 13.44 (95 % CI 12.60–14.28) per 1,000 bed-days at PICU 1 and 18.05 (95 % CI 16.80–19.32) at PICU 2. Of PICU-acquired BSI at PICU 2, 41 % was classified as clinically significant. Rates of PICU-acquired BSI decreased by 10 % per year between 2003 and 2010 for skin organisms and 8 % for non-skin organisms.


Risk-adjustment and standardisation of outcome measures are essential for fair comparisons of BSI rates between PICUs. Linkage of risk-factor data and BSI surveillance is feasible and could allow national risk-adjusted monitoring.