Neonates are at high risk of nosocomial infections and surveillance has been shown to be valuable for the reduction of nosocomial infections. The National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance (NNIS) system established in the US has a special surveillance component for neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) with some fairly specific methods. However, there are no specific definitions of nosocomial infections in this patient group. When creating a surveillance component for NICUs in Germany we therefore decided not to adopt merely all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitions and NNIS methods, but also to develop our own surveillance methods for this patient group. For this process four steps became necessary: (1)development of modified definitions for nosocomial infections and their evaluation; (2)testing the NNIS method in three NICUs with infection control nurses; (3)a pilot project for a surveillance component within the national surveillance system in Germany; and (4)establishment of a surveillance component within our national surveillance system. The system is now established in 33 hospital departments and 66 NICUs participate in the surveillance system. We have an overview of 3357 neonates in three birthweight groups. This article explains the reasons for the various steps, and the advantages and disadvantages of modification of the original NNIS methods and definitions.
Copyright 2004 The Hospital Infection Society