1 in 20 patients acquires infection in hospitals


By Sheila Crisostomo
Saturday, August 16, 2008

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Health experts have warned that one out of 20 patients confined in a hospital or health care unit acquires infection during admission.

Dr. Mario Panaligan, former president of the Philippine Hospital Infection Control Society, said hospital-acquired infection or nosocomial infection are contracted by patients from treatment in a hospital or health care service unit.

“The infections are secondary or not related to the patient’s original condition,” said Panaligan who is currently an officer of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Patients are susceptible to microorganisms that can cause infection because their immune system is often at their weakest state.

He claimed that pathogens are transmitted through direct contact in patient-care activities, and indirect contact through contaminated instruments or other paraphernalia, airborne particles from droplets launched by coughing, sneezing or talking.

Dr. Victor Rosenthal, of the World Health Organization’s Infection Control Guidelines External Reviewer, said that in most developing countries 15 out of 100 patients confined in the intensive care unit are at risk of acquiring hospital-related infection.

Rosenthal added that with “vigilance and proper enforcement of infection control initiatives, hospitals can successfully curb the incidence of infections.”

The two experts have recommended five-point strategies to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

Panaligan said that washing hands thoroughly is a simple procedure but it lessens the chance of transmitting pathogens after contact with blood, skin cells, secretions, bodily fluids, and contaminated articles and equipment.

They proposed the adoption of a “closed infusion system” in which a fully collapsible intravenous bag that does not require any external vent to empty the solution is used, thus preventing any bacteria from entering the system.

The experts want patients with communicable diseases to be isolated and proper ventilation should be installed in hospital rooms to prevent the airborne transmission of diseases.

Needles and sharp instruments like scalpels and surgical scissors must also be properly handled to stop the spread of blood borne pathogens.

Panaligan said proper sterilization and disposal should also be observed and it is imperative that contaminated items should not be left in patient care areas to avoid contact with food or common waste receptacles.

“Economics is one of the factors that can contribute to hospital infections, but shouldn’t necessarily be related. Even public hospitals and low-cost healthcare facilities can prevent hospital infections through simple initiatives,” he said.

He cited the importance of re-educating doctors and health workers as the aggressiveness of intervention in healthcare facilities will determine their success in infection control.(PhilippineStar)

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