Hospital-acquired infections bigger ‘killer’ than accidents

By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: Feb. 13 – Health-Care Acquired Infections (HCAI) are causing more deaths than road accidents across the world, according to experts. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that out of every 100 hospitalised patients, seven in developed and 10 in developing nations will acquire at least one HCAI, Dr Klaus Ruhnau and Marc Becker from Hartmann Research for Infection Protection, told the Observer. Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by such infections, which are claiming millions of lives every year, they said. “Health care-associated infections or infections acquired whilst being treated at hospitals and health-care facilities are one of the major challenges across the world,” they said.
“Eighty per cent of these infections are caused by poor hand-hygiene practices in the health-care setting.”
923505In the absence of effective care and protection, these infections can lead to other major diseases without the knowledge of the patient, they said.
According to them, Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) are caused by viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens. The most common types are bloodstream infection (BSI), pneumonia such as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), urinary tract infection (UTI) and surgical site infection (SSI).
They said “corrective measures” have been taken in some parts of the world, which is a good sign.
The latest initiative is the implementation of Hand Hygiene Evolution Concept, developed by BODE Chemie GmbH, Germany.
Based on the WHO recommendation of following a multi-modal hand-hygiene process, it lays emphasis on an alcohol-based solution, the most effective method to kill germs commonly found in hospitals. The concept aims to help prevent HAIs by connecting BODE hygiene and disinfection partners with hospital management to find ways to improve hygiene.
In developed countries, HCAI concerns 5 to 15 per cent of hospitalised patients and affects 9 to 37 per cent of those admitted to intensive care units (ICU). Approximately five million HCAIs are estimated to occur in acute care hospitals in Europe alone, resulting in 25 million extra days in hospital. “No figures are available for Oman. It is estimated developing countries face an increased risk of HCAI than the developed countries. Data from a limited number of studies in hospitals have shown the prevalence of HCAI to be 15.5 per cent and as high as 47.9 per 1,000 patient-days in adult ICUs,” they added.
They said the annual economic cost of HCAI in 2004 was approximately $6.5 billion. Effective training and precautionary measures could save costs for Oman and other countries.
“We have conducted training in over 100 healthcare facilities (practical training and lecture) covering 2,000 nurses and 500 doctors across government and private hospitals,” said Saju George, Al Farsi Medical.
The training team works alongside the Department of Infection Prevention and Control, Directorate-General of Diseases Surveillances, and Control and Directorate-General of Private Health Establishments.
Recently the team imparted lessons to doctors and nurses from 23 hospitals and 27 PHCs on how to keep HAI away.