Article • Hospital hygiene

Nosocomial infections: a positive trend, but...

Hospital hygiene and how Germany compares in a European survey is somewhat divisive. Some believe Germany does well, whilst others emphasise the need to improve and for a stronger alignment with countries such as the Netherlands.

Report: Eva Britsch

portrait of petra gastmeier
Professor Petra Gastmeier

As hygiene specialist Professor Petra Gastmeier, at the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Charité University Medical Centre Berlin, pointed out: ‘Compared to other EU countries, the prevalence of nosocomial infections in Germany is relatively low.’ However, the expert concedes that Germany has a comparatively large number of hospital beds and hospital stays, so the disease burden is very high by EU comparison. Clearly speaking: The risk of contracting an infection increases with every visit to a German hospital.

Based on current figures (Behnke et al.: Prevalence of nosocomial infections and the use of antibiotics in German hospitals), Gastmeier deems the development in Germany as positive: The number of hospital hygiene specialists has increased and so has the use of hand disinfection agents.

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The figures Gastmeier presents still seem high: An annual 15,000 patients in Germany die from nosocomial infections, with 2,300 of these infections caused by resistant pathogens - a partially preventable cause, she believes. An important aspect arising from the study, carried out by Behnke et al, is the limit of the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics and a general awareness of resistance through antibiotic stewardship programmes.

How the fight against multi-resistant pathogens will progress still appears unclear, as the development of resistance has also been observed with the use of new, innovative antibiotics. Gastmeier is therefore advocating a more considerate, sensible use of antibiotics and emphasises that 30% of all prescriptions could be avoided.


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