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Background: There is limited contemporary information on how infection control professionals ( ICPs ) in hospitals utilise their time, with even less providing any specific data on time taken to undertake HAI surveillance. HAI surveillance is a critical component of any infection control program. Methods: An anonymous online web-based survey was used to conduct a cross-sectional study of infection control units in public and private Australian hospitals. Participants were asked demographic information and time spent undertaking infection control activities, including surveillance. Results: Forty infection control units, responsible for providing services to 138 hospitals completed the survey. The percentage of time spent undertaking HAI surveillance activities by members of the infection control units was 1675 h or 36.0% ( 95% CI 34.3%–37.8%; range 17%–61% ) of all contracted infection control professionals time ( 4653 h ). Of the time spent undertaking HAI surveillance, 56% was spent collecting data, 27% collecting data on compliance with infection control activities and 17% feeding HAI data back to clinicians and management. There was no difference in the proportion of time spent undertaking HAI surveillance between public and privately funded hospitals or infection control units led by a credentialed ICP. Infection control units with a form of electronic surveillance dedicated more time to surveillance, compared to units that did not use such a system. Demands for surveillance increased with larger number of hospitals beds. Conclusion: The costs of undertaking HAI surveillance and collecting data can be considerable. The efficiency of undertaking surveillance should be considered, weighing investment against the likely improvement in infection rates and patient quality of life.

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