BACKGROUND: In Italy there are no rules concerning the establishment of a hospital hygiene structure in hospitals and other healthcare settings, and the hospital organization plans vary widely. The aim of the survey, carried out by the Italian Study Group of Hospital Hygiene of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive medicine and Public health, was to evaluate the presence in the hospital organization plan of a structure referred to as Hospital hygiene, or including in its denomination the words "hygiene" or "hospital hygiene", the activities carried out, the relation to other areas, like patient safety, the type and quantity of professionals involved, the strengths and the critical aspects. METHODS: A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to Healthcare Trusts representing all Italian Regions through the members of the above Study Group. RESULTS: 35 Trusts, 13 in Northern, 8 in Central, 14 in Southern Italy (including Sicily and Sardinia), completed the questionnaire. In 19 Trusts (54.3%) a structure whose denomination included the words "hospital hygiene" or "hygiene" was present. The activities related to the management of infectious risk were most represented, carried out autonomously or in collaboration, but many other activities were covered. In all hospitals the activities of the Hospital Hygiene Unit inter-linked with those of the clinical risk, with different forms of collaboration. CONCLUSION: This survey, even though on a limited sample, provided a picture of hospital hygiene at a national level, showing a considerable heterogeneity and highlighting critical issues but also strengths. It is essential to share organizational and management models that enhance and promote hospital hygiene, to ensure the appropriateness of healthcare practices offered in a safe and comfortable environment to patients, operators, and visitors.