Thursday, May 21, 2009

War on hospital bugs

The European Parliament adopted a report backing measures designed to reduce the millions of infections picked up by patients in hospitals each year. The recruitment of specialised nurses, better education, support for research and better information for patients are among the measures proposed.

Patient safety is of increasing concern in healthcare systems everywhere. The most common problems are healthcare associated infections, medication-related events and complications during or after operations. Many such problems could be avoided fairly easily.

To help achieve this aim, MEPs are being asked to approve with amendments, under the consultation procedure, a draft Council recommendation on patient safety, including the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections. The report on this subject was drafted by Amalia Sartori (EPP-ED, IT) and adopted with 521 votes in favour, 6 against and 5 abstentions.

MEPs call for a 20% improvement by 2015

The Council recommendation calls for national programmes and policies on patient safety, better information to patients, improved reporting on "adverse events" such as infections, promotion of training for healthcare workers and knowledge sharing between Member States. MEPs believe it is important to set a reduction target for Member States to meet, so the amendments include a goal of a 20% reduction by 2015, or 900,000 cases a year. Commission studies indicate that such a reduction is achievable.

Millions affected each year

Adverse events occur in between 8% and 12% of patients admitted to EU hospitals, according to Commission statistics. This amounts to 6.7 to 15 million hospital inpatients.

In addition, some 37 million primary care patients a year suffer adverse effects linked directly to the treatment they have received. Among the most common are infections contracted in hospitals and other points of care. On average, these occur in one hospital patient in 20, giving an annual total of 4.1 million patients.

Even more worryingly, nosocomial infections (those resulting from treatment in a hospital or a healthcare service unit, but secondary to the patient's original condition) kill approximately 37,000 people every year. They are among the most frequent and destructive causes of unintended harm.

Factors that help trigger and spread nosocomial infections include viral antibiotic resistance, a high bed occupancy rate, the increase in patient transfers, an inadequate staff to patient ratio, a failure to pay proper heed to hand hygiene and various other practices serving to prevent infections, incorrect use of medical devices.
REF. : 20090422IPR54195




Further information :