More and more hospital infections

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The number of hospital infections has doubled within five years

Frightening: More and more people get infections during their hospital stay. The number of hospital infections has doubled within the past five years, according to the results of a recent study by the Bremen Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Promotion (BIAG), which carried out its examination on behalf of the "hkk" health insurance company for the health report. The number of infections with so-called multi-resistant germs has increased particularly drastically.

Hospital infections caused by multi-resistant germs Anyone who comes to the hospital should be aware of the risk of infection. Because in the past five years, according to the health insurance company "hkk", the number of hospital infections has doubled. In 2007, 3.1 percent of the “hkk” insured were affected by such an infection. In 2011 it was 6.3 percent. This emerges from the health report of the health insurance company, for which the Bremen Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Promotion (BIAG) was commissioned.

Even more serious was the increase in hospital infection with so-called multi-resistant germs (MRE), which are resistant to most antibiotics and can therefore cause particularly serious illnesses. Especially people with a weakened immune system like chronically ill or older people can easily get infected with MRE. On the other hand, the germs pose no danger to healthy people. While MRE was detected in 271 hospital cases in 2007, there were 619 cases in 2011. "This means that the proportion of MRE infections in all hospital cases has more than doubled in five years from 0.465 to 0.941 percent," says a press release by the "hkk".

The group of multidrug-resistant pathogens also includes the dreaded methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), which is resistant to almost every antibiotic. A pathogen is usually killed by antibiotics. Due to the mutations of some germs, however, these can develop resistance to the antibiotic. The resistant bacteria then multiply and pass on the resistance via the resistance-mediating genes to other types of bacteria, so that more and more resistant pathogens arise. According to the “hkk” health report, the number of hospital infections rose from just under 0.3 percent to a good 0.5 percent. 49 percent of those affected were older patients between the ages of 70 and 89.

A look abroad shows how alarming the situation in Germany is: While in this country MRSA accounts for over 20 percent of all detected Staphylococcus Aureus samples, it is less than 5 percent in Scandinavia, Estonia and the Netherlands. Even in the frequently criticized British healthcare sector, the proportion was within five
Years from 44 percent to less than 22 percent. Experts therefore assume that 20 to 30 percent of all hospital infections with multi-resistant pathogens in Germany could be avoided by taking suitable hygiene measures.

High follow-up costs due to hospital infections Hospital infections due to multi-resistant germs cause high follow-up costs, for example for the extension of treatment, isolation measures, qualified hygiene personnel and protective clothing. Paradoxically, the proportion of these follow-up treatments dropped from 58 to about 42 percent in the same period. A similar development was seen in the complex treatments of infections caused by MRSA. The number dropped from 73 to 58 percent. "We can only speculate about the reasons," explained Dr. Bernard Braun, head of BIAG. “Either the severity of the cases has decreased, so that costly measures from the point of view of the hospitals are not necessary. Or many hospitals are not able to provide such services in terms of personnel, construction or infrastructure. "The expert sees an urgent need for action" to achieve a significant reduction in MRE or MRSA rates in Germany. The first approaches can already be recognized. What we need, however, is a structured concept that involves experts from nursing, medicine, biology, hospitals and meat-producing agriculture, ”says Braun. (Ag)

Also read:
Pilot project to combat hospital germs
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria in sea water
Resistant bacteria in German hospitals
Infection risk in the hospital
Hospital germs: Staphylococci prefer blood

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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