Validation of intensive care unit-acquired infection surveillance in the Italian SPIN-UTI network

J Hosp Infect. 2010 Oct;76(2):139-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2010.05.013. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


Validity is one of the most critical factors concerning surveillance of nosocomial infections (NIs). This article describes the first validation study of the Italian Nosocomial Infections Surveillance in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) project (SPIN-UTI) surveillance data. The objective was to validate infection data and thus to determine the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of NI data reported on patients in the ICUs participating in the SPIN-UTI network. A validation study was performed at the end of the surveillance period. All medical records including all clinical and laboratory data were reviewed retrospectively by the trained physicians of the validation team and a positive predictive value (PPV), a negative predictive value (NPV), sensitivity and specificity were calculated. Eight ICUs (16.3%) were randomly chosen from all 49 SPIN-UTI ICUs for the validation study. In total, the validation team reviewed 832 patient charts (27.3% of the SPIN-UTI patients). The PPV was 83.5% and the NPV was 97.3%. The overall sensitivity was 82.3% and overall specificity was 97.2%. Over- and under-reporting of NIs were related to misinterpretation of the case definitions and deviations from the protocol despite previous training and instructions. The results of this study are useful to identify methodological problems within a surveillance system and have been used to plan retraining for surveillance personnel and to design and implement the second phase of the SPIN-UTI project.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sentinel Surveillance*