Survey results released: Antimicrobial Resistance in Common Hospital Pathogens in Ontario


14 Feb 2023

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a serious threat to patient safety and global public health, as current antimicrobials (antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals etc.) become less effective at treating resistant organisms. Health care-associated infections contribute to increased length of hospitalization, mortality and use of health care resources.
As antimicrobial resistant organisms (AROs) are a major reservoir for health care-associated pathogens, the importance of screening and surveillance programs has been put into the spotlight. Such programs further our understanding of the burden of AROs and the impact of infection control programs in health care settings.

Annual survey on AROs
In 2016, Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Institute for Quality Management in Healthcare (IQMH) established a partnership to conduct an annual survey of antimicrobial resistant organisms (AROs) across all laboratories and public hospitals for surveillance. As the survey was suspended for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey to capture information about 2020 and 2021 was distributed to all licensed microbiology labs and all public hospitals in Ontario.

Participants were surveyed on screening and infection control programs, as well as the prevalence of AROs. The survey also included questions to better understand the impact of the pandemic on the screening and management of health care-associated infections in Ontario hospitals.

New report on ARO surveillance
Our new report, produced collaboratively with IQMH, summarizes the findings of the annual survey on antimicrobial resistance of common hospital pathogens from 2020/21.

From the 2020/21 survey results, we did not observe substantial changes to the overall prevalence of AROs across Ontario. Similar to previous years, there was noticeable regional variation among pathogens. While the COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on the screening and management of health care-associated infections in Ontario hospitals, most disruptions to the use of additional precautions has ceased. Some hospitals however, did report ongoing interruptions to their screening programs and ability to place patients in single rooms.

Surveillance programs on AROs and healthcare-associated infections are necessary to understand the current landscape of resistance. Identifying regional variation of organisms can inform local decisions regarding the appropriate application of infection control policies.

Strengthening the collaborations between public health, health care infection control and laboratories will be instrumental in improving existing surveillance initiatives and developing targeted infection control policies and antimicrobial stewardship programs.

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Published 14 Feb 2023