Each year, more than 10 000 infections preventable through hygiene alone
“We run into danger that our antibiotics are not effective enough anymore. If we do not act now, mortality due to infections will soon be as high as before the introduction of antibiotics,” Prof. Dr. Uwe Frank, Senior Hospital Hygienist at Heidelberg University Hospital and Senior Physician at the Institute of Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene, University Medical Centre Freiburg, Germany warned. Particularly multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens may lead to infections that are not controllable, the hospital hygienist pointed out.
Hygiene potential not fully exploited
The largest immediate potential to prevent infections with MDR pathogens currently is the consistent implementation of hygiene measures. “On a conservative estimate, 30 per cent of all infections acquired in hospital could be prevented by hygiene alone. More recent studies even seem to indicate that much more infections could be prevented,” Dr. Henning Mallwitz, Head of the HARTMANN SCIENCE CENTER reported. In Germany alone, at least 10 000 infections due to multidrug-resistant pathogens could be prevented every year.
Accordingly, the average hand hygiene compliance rate is between 41 per cent and 55 per cent.
For patients it is especially critical, if hand hygiene is omitted before aseptic procedures, for example before placing catheters or changing a dressing, as they involve the risk of pathogens entering areas that are primarily sterile or not colonised with potentially pathogenic microorganisms and triggering severe infections from there.
On the basis of these risks of infection, the HARTMANN SCIENCE CENTER examined important aseptic nursing activities along the patient journey from hospital admission to discharge, and then developed standardised operating procedures (SOPs) for the most common nursing activities, particularly focussing on all steps that involve a risk of infection. “Although we did not reinvent hygiene, we can considerably reduce the share of hygiene mistakes and increase patient protection,” Mallwitz explained.
*ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)