The COVID-19 pandemic may have had a substantial impact on the incidence of device-associated healthcare-associated infections (HAI), in particular in intensive care units (ICU). A significant increase of HAI was reported by US hospitals when comparing incidence rates from 2019 and 2020. The objective of this study was to investigate the development of the most relevant device-associated HAI in German ICUs during the year 2020 as compared to 2019.
We utilized the data of the ICU component of the German National Reference Center for Surveillance of Nosocomial Infections (KISS = Krankenhaus-Infektions-Surveillance-System) for the period 2019-2020. We focused on central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), ventilator-associated lower respiratory infections (VALRTI) and bloodstream infections associated with the use of Extracorporeal-Life-Support-Systems (ECLSABSI). Device use was defined as the number device days per 100 patient days; device-associated infection rates as the number of device-associated infections per 1000 device days. To compare the pooled means between the years and quarters we calculated rate ratios of device-associated infection rates with 95% confidence intervals by Poisson regression models.
The number of participating ICUs in the surveillance system decreased from 982 in 2019 to 921 in 2020 (6.2%). Device utilization rates increased significantly for central lines and ventilator use. VALRTI rates and CAUTI rates decreased in 2020 compared with 2019, however, no increase was shown for CLABSI or ECLSABSI. This result was also confirmed when the corresponding quarters per year were analyzed.
The lack of an increase in device-associated healthcare associated infections (HAI) in German ICUs may be due to the lower overall incidence of COVID-19 cases in Germany in 2020 compared with US, to a very high availability of ICU beds per 100,000 inhabitants compared with many other countries, and a change in the ICU patient mix due to numerous elective procedures that were postponed during the first two waves. The primary reason seems to be that only 7% of all ICU patients in Germany in 2020 were COVID-19 patients.

© 2022. The Author(s).