To estimate the prevalence of nosocomial infections (NI) and to increase healthcare professionals' awareness of hygiene, all French hospitals were requested to participate to a national point-prevalence survey on a voluntary basis between May and June, 1996. Of the 236 334 inpatients in 830 participating hospitals, 6.7% presented with at least one nosocomial infection and 1.3% with an NI imported from another hospital. Nosocomial infection prevalence was particularly high in rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, especially for urinary tract and skin/soft tissue infections. Postoperative patients accounted for 18% of the overall population and had twice the frequency of NI as other patients. The prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was 0.6% and accounted for 57% of all S. aureus isolated from NI. The results of this first national prevalence survey reflect the sustained efforts at combating NI over the past decade in France and provided an incentive for better definition of infection control priorities in high-risk healthcare settings.
Copyright 2000 The Hospital Infection Society.