What we do

Many healthcare infections are preventable. VICNISS helps to reduce them. 

We work with public and private hospitals and residential aged-care facilities to reduce healthcare-associated infections in Victoria. We help to reduce infections acquired in hospitals, during outpatient treatment or hospital-in-the-home. 

Evidence shows that monitoring and reporting infection data helps reduce infections by up to 30 per cent. The data we collect provides a baseline rate and an early warning if infections rise. This allows healthcare facilities to improve their processes and keep people safe. 

We support healthcare providers by: 

           ▪ monitoring and reporting infections and related events to hospitals and the Department of Health

           ▪ promoting best practices by educating and supporting infection control staff 

           ▪ improving care in hospitals and residential aged care through standardised and data-driven programs.


Our work in action

Review of surgical antibiotic prophylaxis reporting

Surgical patients at a major Melbourne hospital will benefit from a review of antibiotic use in surgery.

Antibiotics are given before some surgeries to help prevent infections. To be safe and effective, the correct dose of an appropriate drug is given at a specific time, usually within an hour of surgery. Sometimes a second dose is administered during surgery, particularly if the surgery is very long. 

VICNISS monitors this and provides compliance advice to hospitals.

VICNISS supported the hospital in improving its processes after the hospital found a problem with surgical antibiotic prophylaxis (SAP) reporting. The team sought advice from VICNISS about reporting antibiotic timing, dosing, and duration.

“The staff at VICNISS are always available to assist with clarification of surveillance definitions or interpretation of reports,” the hospital said. “On this occasion, understanding the VICNISS SAP reports was important before we could move forward and address the gaps.” 

The hospital then examined its processes, audited procedure start times, and incision time.

It found surgical staff recorded antibiotics as administered at the incision time, but this wasn’t always accurate. This meant the timing was incorrectly reported to VICNISS, with up to a quarter failing to comply with timing protocols. 

“This has been a really useful process,” the hospital said.

It allowed the team to review its data, identify possible gaps, and address them. 

The hospital has changed its process and has asked anaesthetists to ensure they document the time of antibiotic administration as accurately as possible.

“It’s prompted us to review our own SAP processes and check that the patient is receiving the correct antibiotic dose, that it’s given at the right time, and that the duration of the antibiotic follows best-practice evidence. At the end of the day, patients benefit.”

Data helps health service tackle infection spike

A regional health service has reduced Staphylococcus aureus (‘golden staph’) bacteraemia infections with support from VICNISS data.

VICNISS collects data on targeted organisms, including multi-resistant organisms, and shares it in a centralised database.

The data allows Victorian health services to compare their infection rates with rates in similar services. This means they can identify trends and see whether infection rates are higher or lower than expected.

“Standardised definitions for infections allow us to determine if and where our infection risks are in the health service,” the health service said.“ This information allows us to make decisions or recommendations and create guidelines based on accurate infection rates.”

The health service identified a spike in Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia infections in this case.
The team used VICNISS’s database to compare the rate with their previous and other regional rates.
It confirmed their infection rate was high and identified a problem.

“The reports generated from VICNISS formed the basis for our investigation and staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia action plan,” the hospital said.

Since introducing the action plan, they have reduced Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia infections across the health service.

Staff benefit because recommendations and guidelines are evidence-based. Consumers benefit because evidence-based practice results in better care and lower infection rates.


What they say

“I have used the VICNISS portal since 2011 for acute hospital and aged care surveillance. The surveillance data we collect is logical, flows and is easy to input. The VICNISS team are also great to work with. When I ask for guidance, it’s never a hassle. The team listens and helps me troubleshoot to get to a solution.” - Rural health service

“When I first entered the sphere of infection control, I felt ill-equipped to manage the infection surveillance within the healthcare setting. I often telephoned VICNISS to discuss nuances in clinical scenarios and whether it should or shouldn’t be included in surveillance data.” - Regional health service

“I have been collaborating with VICNISS since the beginning of VICNISS in Victoria. I have spoken with VICNISS staff, attended VICNISS forums, workshops, meetings, and masterclasses and generally sought their expert guidance and assistance, as have all my team. Discussions with VICNISS staff regarding the collection of healthcare-associated infection surveillance data, troubleshooting, problem-solving, use of data collection tools, definitions, etc., have always been very collegiate, expert and professional.” - Regional health service

“VICNISS has always been approachable, open to discussion, understanding and informative. Their data collection requirements have assisted me with informative feedback for staff in education, influencing clinical practice change, and ultimately reducing risk and improving safe quality care.” - Regional health service

“The team at VICNISS has been an invaluable resource for me, particularly over the last two years, for the continued collection of credible surveillance data within my infection prevention and control role at my health care facility. The ongoing collection of valid surveillance data, such as hospital-acquired COVID-19 infections, has facilitated timely and effective investigations, allowing the implementation of successful interventions in our infection prevention practices.” - Private healthcare provider

“At the peak of COVID-19 infection rates, data collected by VICNISS assisted in providing reliable and relevant information to allow accurate reporting and prompt investigation, resulting in increased awareness of healthcare workers, changes in practice and improved outcomes of infection rates.” - Private healthcare provider

“I value the easy communications and interactions with the VICNISS team and find the practical way VICNISS data supports the healthcare worker in infection prevention practices within the healthcare facility to be of immense benefit in my role.” - Private healthcare provider

“Data collected on occupational blood and body fluid exposure enable benchmarking data to peer hospital groups and aim to explore and define possible trends and patterns, which are key to developing strategies to reduce incidents and improve patient safety. This benefits patients by ensuring their care is quality and safe from harm.” - Private healthcare provider


"Being new to the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at our service, we contacted VICNISS to see if they could help us and with some questions we had. They were incredibly helpful taking the time to meet with us, provide really useful information and run us through their surveillance data, showing us how to get the most out of ours. I could not speak highly enough of their service, thank you."  - Regional health service