Long empty hospital corridor (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
There are about 100,000 nosocomial infections (those acquired in medical centers, not brought in by hospitalized patients) every year according to Health Ministry officials. At a discussion Wednesday in the Knesset State Control Committee, the officials said there has already been a “sharp and dramatic decrease” in the number of such infections, and the ministry has allocated NIS 50 million to reduce the phenomenon.
Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, who heads the committee, said that at least 1,000 deaths per year can be prevented by fighting nosocomial infections.
“There are many heartbreaking stories of healthy people who were hospitalized for a simple operation and died of infections. Good intentions are not enough. The test is the result,” she said.
Dr. Vered Ezra, head of the ministry’s medical administration, told the committee that the NIS 50 million will be used to prevent infections by setting 80 indices and incentives to hospitals that meet the standards by adding manpower including doctors and nurses, increasing the distance between beds and making sure that medical personnel and visitors wash their hands constantly.
In the past five years, 1,000 beds have been added to Israeli hospitals, and in the next five the ministry intends to expand the number even more, said Ezra, who stressed that some of the data on infections have been collected and the rest will completed by the end of June. “We are trying to cut nosocomial infections by cutting hospitalization days of patients who could be treated at home or in the community for the remainder,” she added.
Prof. Yehuda Carmeli, head of the National Center for the Prevention of Hospital Infections, said that nosocomial infections are monitored in an ongoing way, and in some cases, his teams are sent to the affected hospitals. Reports are prepared monthly, every six months and yearly.
Infection-control expert Prof. Mitchell Schwaber said that hospitals that identified infections and asked for the ministry experts’ intervention were later found to be free of infections, resulting in the saving of dozens of lives.
Prof. Avraham Borer, who is responsible for infection prevention in hospitals owned by Clalit Health Services, said that all directors of these medical centers meet every two months to deal with the problem with training, improving infrastructure and investigation of bacterial resistance and patient exposure.
But Prof. Galia Rahav, director of infection prevention at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, asked: “How can one isolate [infected] patients if there aren’t enough hospital beds and isolation rooms and not enough nurses?”