Open Access Research article

Evaluation of the national surveillance system for point-prevalence of healthcare-associated infections in hospitals and in long-term care facilities for elderly in Norway, 2002-2008

Agnes Hajdu12*, Hanne M Eriksen2, Nina K Sorknes2, Siri H Hauge2, Hege L Loewer2, Bjørn G Iversen2 and Preben Aavitsland2

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Hospital Epidemiology and Hygiene, National Center for Epidemiology, 1097, Gyáli út 2-6, Budapest, Hungary

2 Dept. of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 0403, P.O. Box 4404, Nydalen Oslo, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:923  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-923

Published: 13 December 2011



Since 2002, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has invited all hospitals and long-term care facilities for elderly (LTCFs) to participate in two annual point-prevalence surveys covering the most frequent types of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). In a comprehensive evaluation we assessed how well the system operates to meet its objectives.


Surveillance protocols and the national database were reviewed. Data managers at national level, infection control practitioners and ward personnel in hospitals as well as contact persons in LTCFs involved in prevalence data collection were surveyed.


The evaluation showed that the system was structurally simple, flexible and accepted by the key partners. On average 87% of hospitals and 32% of LTCFs participated in 2004-2008; high level of data completeness was achieved. The data collected described trends in the prevalence of reportable HAIs in Norway and informed policy makers. Local results were used in hospitals to implement targeted infection control measures and to argue for more resources to a greater extent than in LTCFs. Both the use of simplified Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions and validity of data seemed problematic as compliance with the standard methodology were reportedly low.


The surveillance system provides important information on selected HAIs in Norway. The system is overall functional and well-established in hospitals, however, requires active promotion in LTCFs. Validity of data needs to be controlled in the participating institutions before reporting to the national level.