Monitoring Quality of Care Through Linkage of Administrative Data: National Trends in Bloodstream Infection in U.K. PICUs 2003–2012

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Interventions to reduce hospital-acquired bloodstream infection have succeeded in reducing rates in U.S. PICUs, but there is a lack of evidence for the impact of similar interventions in the United Kingdom. We assessed variation in bloodstream infection rates within and between PICUs over a 10-year period, during which time infection control strategies (care bundles) were implemented.


Observational study linking laboratory data to national audit data of pediatric intensive care admissions (Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network).


Twenty PICUs in England and Wales, 2003–2012.


One hundred and two thousand nine hundred ninety-nine children less than 16 years.


Implementation of infection control strategies in PICU captured through a survey of clinicians.

Measurements and Main Results:

Rates of bloodstream infection per 1,000 bed-days were estimated from samples taken between 2 days after admission and up to 2 days following discharge from PICU. Two percent of children experienced at least one bloodstream infection, corresponding to 5.11 (95% CI, 4.90–5.31) per 1,000 bed-days. There was a significant difference in trends preimplementation of infection control strategies (annual decrease of 8.0%; 95% CI, 6.3–9.7%) versus postimplementation (annual decrease of 13.4%; 95% CI, 10.3–16.4%). By 24 months postimplementation, the rate of bloodstream infection had fallen 25.5% and was 15.1% lower than would have been expected if preimplementation trends had continued.


Our population-based study of PICUs in England and Wales demonstrates a steady decline in bloodstream infection rates over time. In addition, there was a significant and incremental further decrease in rates associated with timing of implementation of infection control strategies. Assessment of bloodstream infection trends before as well as after implementation of infection control strategies can be facilitated using data linkage and is important to avoid overestimating the impact of unit-level interventions to improve infection control. Advances in collection and linkage of real-time data could further support quality improvement efforts.

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