Thousands of Israelis die every year from hospital-acquired infections

Hospitals were divided into three categories - large, medium and small - to enable a fair comparison of infection rates, taking into account that larger hospitals treat the most complex patients.

Doctors performing surgery (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
Doctors performing surgery
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
Between 4,000 and 6,000 patients in Israel die from complications of hospital-acquired infections every year, in many cases from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according a State Comptroller’s Office report from 2013. A further 40,000 hospital patients in Israel are adversely affected by what are known as nosocomial infections.
The numbers came to light again after Yediot Aharonot published a previously-unseen Health Ministry report on Sunday that listed Israeli hospitals with the worst rates of hospital-acquired infections.
The new Health Ministry report ranked Israeli hospitals according to the rate of hospital-acquired infections per 100,000 patient-days.
Hospitals were divided into large, medium and small facilities in order to enable a fair comparison of infection rates, and taking into account that larger hospitals generally treat the most complex cases, and patients with multiple or complicated medical conditions are often transferred from smaller hospitals to larger institutions for improved treatment.
Among Israel’s six large hospitals, Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva recorded the highest rate of infections (132), followed by Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem (116) and Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv (107). The hospital with the least infections was Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba (52).
In the country’s medium-sized hospitals, Bnei Zion Medical Center in Haifa registered the most infections (156), followed by Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba recorded the fewest infections across all categories nationwide (40), followed by Afula’s Ha’emek Medical Center (41).
Among Israel’s small hospitals, Hasharon Hospital in Petah Tikva recorded the highest rate of infections (161), followed by the Laniado Hospital in Netanya (104). Assuta Ashdod Medical Center, which opened in 2017, recorded the fewest infections among the country’s small hospitals (51).
Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are among the greatest public health challenges globally. Those listed by the Health Ministry of Health found in Israeli hospitals included carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae, or CPE, an almost untreatable “superbug” that resistant to nearly all antibiotics; Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, or VRE, resistant to several forms of antibiotic therapy, including what is often called the antibiotic of last resort; Acinetobacter baumannii; and Clostridium difficile, or CDI, which can cause severe diarrhea leading to death, particularly among the elderly and very young.
The primary causes behind the spread of infections in hospitals, the 2013 State Comptroller’s report stated, are poor hand hygiene, a lack of hospital visitor awareness regarding the spread of infections, hospital environmental conditions, an insufficient number of healthcare workers, and inadequate isolation of patients with infectious diseases.