BACKGROUND AND AIM: To describe the methodology and output of the Belgian surveillance for infections acquired in intensive care units (ICUs) between 1997 and 2010.
METHODS: Since 1997, ICUs in acute care hospitals in Belgium have been encouraged by federal law to participate in a national multi-centre prospective observational surveillance programme. A protocol and software tool for data collection was developed, and the case definitions and methodology follow those of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
FINDINGS: For 2010, 18 hospitals provided data on 59 observation quarters, 6478 ICU patients and 52,593 ICU patient-days. The mean incidence rates of ICU-acquired pneumonia and intubation-associated pneumonia were 13 per 1000 patient-days and 12 per 1000 intubation-days, respectively. The mean incidence rates of ICU-acquired bloodstream infections, central vascular catheter (CVC)-associated bloodstream infections and CVC-associated primary bloodstream infections were 3.2 per 1000 patient-days, 2.6 per 1000 catheter-days and 2.3 per 1000 catheter-days, respectively. Between 1997 and 2010, stable trends in ICU-acquired pneumonia and bloodstream infections were observed, together with decreasing trends for intubation-associated pneumonia and CVC-associated bloodstream infections, and a stable trend for CVC-associated primary bloodstream infections.
CONCLUSIONS: In Belgium, national surveillance of ICU-acquired infections allows acute care hospitals to track the incidence of infections at local level, enabling comparison with national and European reference data. Between 1997 and 2010, the incidence of ICU-acquired infections increased and the incidence of device-associated infections decreased.