Ministry targets in-house hospital infections

Health professionals are functioning with very pressed resources, says director-general.

Man lying in a hospital bed at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem [illustrative]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Man lying in a hospital bed at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem [illustrative].
 A NIS 50m. per year Health Ministry program to prevent nosocomial (in-house) infections in hospitals was presented Tuesday at the Knesset State Control Committee.
Committee chairman MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) said that every additional shekel that the Treasury allocates for this can save lives.
In-house hospital infections were discussed in the latest State Comptroller Report issued a few months ago. “One frequently hears of a patient who is admitted to a hospital with something who leaves it with something completely different.
Sometimes, it even ends in death. Estimates of deaths from nosocomial infections range between 4,000 and 6,000 a year, and this is [many times over] the road accident toll. No one disagrees that a solution must for this must be found.”
Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said “If we wanted to really deal with the problem of hospital infections, we would have to double the budgets of hospitals around the country. In the present situation, we are functioning with very pressed resources. We are working directly and indirectly to reduce the phenomenon of overcrowding in the hospitals and are producing good results, mostly thanks to a lot of creativity and initiative.”
“Israel is facing a tsunami of aging of the population,” said Bar Siman Tov, an economist.
“In 2015, there was a net increase of 5,000 people over the age of 75 compared to 2014.
In 2012, it will be 22,000 more, more than four fold. These people are in internal medicine departments, and we have to prepare for this problem on a national level.”
The director-general added that many hospital maintenance staffers are burnt out due to the overcrowding, but doing their best to prevent infections.
Dr. Vered Ezra, who heads the ministry’s medical administration, presented the nosocomial infection prevention program.
The additional funding will provide bonuses to hospitals with a low infection rate, training, computerization and a campaign meant for medical teams and the general public on how to reduce infections by washing hands with alcohol gel or soap and water, and how to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics which increases bacterial resistance to drugs.
MK Osama Sa’adi (United Arab List) said that two of his family members died in recent years from hospital-acquired infections. “We can not bring them back, but we can prevent the loss of other patients in the future. It is shameful that the State of Israel has not managed to find the money for this purpose and to save lives. After a year of follow-up, we see programs, but no results.”
MK Eyal Ben-Reuven of the Zionist Union said that the number of terror victims is much lower than those from in-house infections, but families of terror victims shout and we help them... Every hospital director must take action to change the situation. There are many things that do not cost money, and are involved in hygiene,” he said.
Prof. Yehuda Carmeli, head of the ministry’s national center for preventing hospital infections and resistance, said his center was established eight years ago. “Since then, we have intervened massively in geriatric hospitals, which were a black hole in the prevention of nosocomial infections.
We have handed out regulations on preventing blood infections in intensive care units in the general hospitals.
In 2012, we monitored cases and found a 50 percent drop in cases, but we still have room for reaching the figures of the most advanced countries,” he added.