Between 4,000 and 6,000 Israelis die annually from nosocomial infections (those obtained in a hospital), according to information reported to the Knesset State Control Committee on Tuesday.
The discussion was called as a result of a section in the State Comptroller Report’s chapter on the Health Ministry about in-hospital infections.
Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) urged the media to report the problem constantly, because “there is no awareness. Only then will we start to see changes in the field.”
Nosocomial infections can be prevented with proper hygienic practices such as sanitizing hands before touching patients using an alcohol gel or washing them carefully with soap and water, Cohen said. The Health Ministry must investigate and take action, while the media have to cooperate to make the problem better known just like road accidents, the MK said.
Cohen urged the ministry to issue clear guidelines to change the situation in the field, because “it isn’t logical to continue this situation in which the operation succeeds but the patient dies from an accidental infection.”
Shmuel Golan of the State Comptroller’s Office said “that the numbers in our report must turn on a red light for all of us, and they must force the ministry to act immediately and with determination.” He suggested considering using incentives to hospitals for improved hygiene and to regard unclean hands as a major failure.
Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu said the comptroller’s report “contributed much to improving the hygienic shortcomings, and that medical institutions have not paid enough attention to the problem.” The ministry for the first time recently received Treasury allocations of a total of NIS 40 million in incentives to hospitals that prevent nosocomial infections, Gamzu revealed to the committee. “But these are not enough, because the Finance Ministry does not have a systemic view on budgeting for the health system,” he continued.
Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman blamed nosocomial infections on “overcrowding in hospital departments and the shortage of professional manpower. In addition, hygiene is a product of culture, and this is lacking in Israel.”
Yehuda Carmeli, who runs the National Center for Preventing Infections, said efforts are being made in hospitals to reach European standards.
Channel 10 TV weatherman Danny Roup, whose father died of complications of a nosocomial infection and who spoke on behalf of the Israel Patients Association, said that proper behavior can prevent the spread of hospital infections.