Hospital-acquired infections: Thousands dead from hospital germs in Austria

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Between 4,500 and 5,000 patients die annually in this country from bacterial infections caused by hospital germs. These deaths could almost certainly be prevented by correct hand disinfection in hospitals, the Semmelweis Society stressed on the occasion of World Hand Hygiene Day on Friday, March 5.

Hygiene must not be underestimated.
The increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria means that many of these infections can no longer be adequately treated, it said.

Alcohol-based disinfectants
“At home, simply washing hands with soap is enough, but in healthcare facilities, hands, instruments, and surroundings must be treated with alcohol-based disinfectants,” he said. This should be a daily routine and standard for hospital staff in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Still, visitors can also make a big difference by making the obligatory trip to the disinfectant dispenser,” informed Johannes Culen, Secretary General of the Semmelweis Society, in a release.

According to estimates, 95,000 patients in Austria are infected annually during diagnostic or therapeutic measures in healthcare facilities, some of which are challenging to treat, often multi-resistant pathogens. The cause is usually poor hygiene or non-compliance with preventive measures due to organizational or structural circumstances. Around 4,500 to 5,000 of these so-called nosocomial infections lead to death each year.

“Hand hygiene to curb hospital germ infections must not remain a matter for the states.”
There are no concrete figures because documentation of these infections is not mandatory, which it should be, according to the Semmelweis Society. The experts also call for uniform hand hygiene standards nationwide. “Hand hygiene to contain infections with hospital germs must not remain a matter for the individual states. We demand uniform and binding hygiene quality standards for all of Austria,” Culen emphasized.

The Semmelweis Society is a non-profit association in Vienna that has set itself the task of raising public awareness of the need for adequately applied hospital hygiene. It is named after Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865), Viennese surgeon and obstetrician, founder of evidence-based medicine and “inventor” of hand hygiene.

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