In Europe an estimated three million cases of hospital acquired infections (HAI) occur annually and 50,000 are fatal. Such infections remain a crucial public health threat today with a rising numbers of immuno-compromised people including transplant patients, HIV positive and the elderly who are more susceptible to infections. And the
infections are increasingly difficult to manage because of growing antibiotic resistance.
Speaking at an event organized by The European Society of Clinical Microbiology band Infectious Diseases (ESCMID), Professor Giuseppe Cornaglia, President of ESCMID, stressed; “Although healthcare acquired infections are largely preventable, for many patients a trip to the hospital can result in dangerous and lingering
infections. But there is much more that can be done to tackle such infections, from hand hygiene to screening, targeted cleaning, proper vaccination of staff and use of sterile techniques, all of which will save lives and money.”
A range of potentially fatal infections are prevalent in European hospitals today at a time of increasing antibiotic resistance. But rates across Europe vary greatly. For example, one of the so called “superbugs”, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which often grows on medical devices and can cause pneumonia, septicaemia and urinary tract
infections, is an important cause of antibiotic-resistant infections among hospital patients. In Greece in 2008, 46% of patient samples of P aeruginosa were multidrug resistant (ie, resistant to three or more antibiotics), compared with 1% in Sweden. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is among the deadliest hospital infections. The UK has one of the highest rates in Northern Europe with MRSA accounting for around 40% of all Staph aureus bloodstream infection, compared with just 1% in the Netherlands and Norway.
But ESCMID urges healthcare professionals, governments and the general public that improvements are possible. “With a combination of rigorous hygiene and infection control protocols, the prudent use of antibiotics and common sense measures by hospital stuff and patients alike the rates of such infections and mortality can be significantly reduced, ” said Professor Cornaglia.