Belgium monitors the burden of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and antimicrobial use in nursing homes (NHs) by participating in the European point prevalence surveys (PPSs) organised in long-term care facilities (HALT surveys). We present the main findings of the three national PPSs conducted in NHs participating in at least one of these surveys, and in a cohort that participated in all three consecutive surveys.
All NHs were invited to voluntarily participate and conduct the survey on one single day in May-September 2010 (HALT-1), in April-May 2013 (HALT-2) or in September-November 2016 (HALT-3). Data were collected at institutional, ward and resident level. A detailed questionnaire had to be completed for all eligible (i.e. living full time in the facility since at least 24 h, present at 8:00 am and willing to participate) residents receiving at least one systemic antimicrobial agent and/or presenting at least one active HAI on the PPS day. The onset of signs/symptoms had to occur more than 48 h after the resident was (re-)admitted to the NH.
A total of 107, 87 and 158 NHs conducted the HALT-1, HALT-2 and HALT-3 survey, respectively. The median prevalence of residents with antimicrobial agent(s) increased from 4.3% (95% confidence interval (CI): 3.5-4.8%) in HALT-1 to 4.7% (95% CI: 3.5-6.5%) in HALT-2 and 5.0% (95% CI: 4.2-5.9%) in HALT-3. The median prevalence of residents with HAI(s) varied from 1.8% (95% CI: 1.4-2.7%) in HALT-1 to 3.2% (95% CI: 2.2-4.2%) in HALT-2 and 2.7% (95% CI: 2.1-3.4%) in HALT-3. Our post-hoc analysis on the cohort (n = 25 NHs) found similar trends. In all three surveys, respiratory tract infections were most frequently reported, followed by skin/wound infections in HALT-1 and urinary tract infections in HALT-2 and HALT-3. Antimicrobials were most commonly prescribed for the therapeutic treatment of an infection: 66.4% in HALT-1, 60.9% in HALT-2 and 64.1% in HALT-3. Uroprophylaxis accounted for 28.7%, 35.6% and 28.4% of all prescriptions, respectively.
None withstanding the limitations peculiar to the study design, the PPSs enabled us to assess the occurrence of and to increase awareness for HAIs and rational antimicrobial use in NHs at both local and national level.